Asked today whether he intends to make an endorsement in this year’s Trenton mayoral race, Gov. Phil Murphy had no comment, saying only that he hoped Trenton’s leaders make the city the best it can be.
“No news to make in Trenton on the race, other than that it’s the capital city, and Trenton punching at its maximum weight is a big objective,” Murphy said. “That’s something that we’re committed to.”
Mayor Reed Gusciora, first elected in 2018, faces two councilmembers in the nonpartisan November election, both of whom have made headlines with their offensive remarks in recent years. Council President Kathy McBride used the phrase “Jew her down” in 2019, while Councilwoman Robin Vaughn has said a whole panoply of bizarre and derogatory things, including calling Gusciora (who is gay) an “old pedophile running around with little boys” in 2020.
At the time of both of those incidents, Murphy, like many other Democrats across the state, sharply rebuked the councilwomen; he even called for Vaughn’s resignation after her “pedophile” remark.
But despite the widespread condemnation of both McBride and Vaughn, Murphy isn’t alone in exercising caution in this year’s mayoral race. Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) similarly declined to say if she’d get involved in the race last month, and most major state groups and politicians haven’t made endorsements either.
One important exception is the state’s gay rights community. The LGBTQ advocacy organization Garden State Equality is backing Gusciora, and the mayor was the beneficiary of a fundraiser hosted by Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City), the lone openly gay member of the legislature.