Jerry Speziale has dropped his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for Passaic County sheriff after conversations with members of Gov. Phil Murphy’s political team, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
The former three-term sheriff had been circulating petitions to challenge incumbent Richard Berdnik in the Democratic primary.
Speziale’s decision to withdraw from the 2019 race appears to cement a relationship with the governor, who is working to secure another term for Democratic State chairman John Currie.
Currie is the longtime Passaic County Democratic chairman and would potentially have incurred some political problems at home had Speziale, still popular with Democrats and with nearly $500,000 in a campaign warchest, wound up winning an off-the-line victory.
Speziale was elected sheriff in 2001 and resigned during his 2010 re-election campaign to take a law enforcement job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He is currently the Paterson Police Director.
Editor’s note: this story was updated at 10:45 AM to include Speziale’s statement.