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Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch). Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Pallone takes sides in Edison Democratic mayoral primary

Powerful congressman endorses Sam Joshi

By David Wildstein, April 08 2021 9:15 am

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch) endorsed Sam Joshi for the Democratic nomination for mayor on Thursday morning, becoming the latest in a growing line of top Democratic leaders to take sides in the primary election.

“I have worked with Councilman Sam Joshi for many years and know how hard he has worked to unite Edison,” said Pallone, who represents Edison in the U.S. House of Representatives.  “He tirelessly strives to represent every resident of his town and to ensure that no community is ever left behind.”

Joshi, 31, will run on the Middlesex County Democratic organization line after receiving the backing of Kevin McCabe, the county chairman, on Wednesday.

He faces Edison Democratic Municipal Chairman Mahesh Bhagia, who is now the off the line candidate in the June 8 Democratic primary.

Bhagia’s role in a scandal involving a racist flyer in a 2017 school board race that has now become the target of a grand jury probe, and his filing of an alternate slate against incumbent legislators and county officials on Monday, triggered the decision for the party to jettison him.

In addition to McCabe, Joshi has been endorsed by: Gov. Phil Murphy, who is heading the organization line slate; State Sens. Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) and Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch); Assemblymen Rob Karabinchak (D-Edison), Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick) and Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City); and Middlesex County Commissioners Ronald Rios and Shanti Narra and Commissioner-designate Chanelle McCullum.

Pallone praised Joshi’s candidacy.

“His commitment and energy are exactly what the residents of Edison need and deserve,” Pallone stated.  “I will work tirelessly to elect Sam and the entire Middlesex County Democratic Organization ticket this June and November and strongly endorse his candidacy for mayor.”

Pallone, a congressman since 1988, has represented Edison since 1992.  As head of Energy & Commerce, Pallone heads one of the most powerful committees on Capitol Hill.

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