Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) called for open primaries in the 37th district Wednesday.
“Over the last twenty years, I have served as a leader in Bergen County’s Democratic Party. That’s why I want to lead- not by sowing division, but by promoting unity, equity and fairness,” she said. “The closed process behind the primary in District 37 has already caused considerable division and animosity. Therefore, I am calling for an open primary where no legislative candidates are awarded the county line.”
Vainieri Huttle and her running mate, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) are both seeking to succeed Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) in the legislature’s upper chamber. Weinberg is not seeking re-election, ending a career in public office that stretched for more than 45 years.
Johnson has enough votes to win the Bergen County’s Democratic line. That’ll give him an advantageous position on the primary ballot. Vainieri Huttle last month announced she would seek the party’s nomination off the line, charging Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano was in the tank for Johnson, an allegation Juliano denied.
“An open primary will ensure that longtime allies and colleagues can debate ideas and visions, not petty politics. I am calling for an open, fair and equitable process where there are no backroom deals, where all the candidates can take their message, their record and their platform directly to the people of District 37,” she said.
The Assemblywoman’s call is likely to fall on deaf ears.
Her accusation that the process was rigged against her appears to have offended Juliano, whose term the Democratic Committee extended until June 2022 by an overwhelming 754-50 margin earlier this week.
It was seen as a validation of the positions the organization’s taken this year, perhaps even the decision to back Johnson for Weinberg’s seat.
“It’s this simple, we are a stronger party when we are a more open party,” Vainieri Huttle said. “The cure for what troubles the Bergen County Democratic Party is more democracy, not less.”