Morris County Democrats will hold a convention on March 15 to endorse a candidate to challenge State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) in a special election and to pick a presidential candidate to run on the organization line.
The convention will come thirteen days after Super Tuesday and on the afternoon of the 11th Democratic presidential debate.
Morris Township deputy mayor Jeff Grayzel, 2018 freeholder candidate Rupande Mehta and attorney Clifford Dawkins are seeking the Senate nomination.
Party rules require a candidate to win 50% plus one of the votes. There will be a runoff between the top two contenders if none of the candidates win a majority outright.
Morris County Democratic chairman Chip Robinson says he is remaining neutral in the Senate race.
“I have not and will not endorse a candidate until after our nominating convention,” Robinson said. “I feel strongly that our Municipal Chairs and fellow Democratic leaders and Caucus Chairs should be free to recommend and or endorse who they wish before the convention.”
Chester Democratic municipal chair Darcy Draeger is seeking to oppose Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham) in a special election for State Assembly.
So far, only Hunterdon County has awarded their line for the New Jersey presidential primary. The winner of their first-in-the-state convention was Elizabeth Warren, who edged out Michael Bloomberg by four votes on the third ballot.
Grayzel said he’s the only candidate to win an election, scoring three wins in Republican-leaning Morris Township.
“That makes me the only candidate who has ever actually governed,” he said. “My experience of running multiple elections, winning elections, and governing is what makes me the best democratic candidate in this race.”
According to Grayzel, the race will be decided by GOP cross-over voters in a district where there are 7,274 more Republicans than Democrats.
“I believe I am the only democratic candidate who has a reasonable chance of winning in November.”
Dawkins, who narrowly lost a race for Rockaway borough councilman last year, was endorsed on Thursday by Dr. Joseph E. Woods, the former Union Baptist Church Pastor and Founder and Pastor of the Tabernacle of Faith Family Church in Morristown.
“Due to my position as a religious leader, I typically choose not to endorse political candidates. I’m breaking that precedent now in support of Cliff because I don’t want us to miss this opportunity to be represented by a proven leader,” Woods said. “Having known Cliff for more than 27 years, I’ve seen him grow from a child in the foster care system to an accomplished individual with a thriving career, a beautiful family, and a proven record of community service.”