Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller and the New Jersey Education Association today launched Protecting Our Democracy, an 501 (c)(4) issue advocacy organization that Spiller says will fight to “restore confidence in government and unity in our country.” The organization’s founding donor is the NJEA, of which Spiller is the president.
“We are facing an increasingly virulent effort from a violent extreme minority to strip away fundamental rights and undermine the institutions that protect equal opportunity for all – the courts, the presidency, Congress and our public schools,” Spiller said in a statement. “We may not agree on everything, but we must unite to stand strong against these attacks on the American promise and our very capacity to work together to tackle our biggest challenges.”
The new issue group also has the support of another prominent Montclair resident, Marcia Marley, the president of BlueWaveNJ and a Democratic National Committeewoman from New Jersey. Marley stressed that there is an urgent need to protect democracy.
“We can’t assume that our right to vote will remain intact, that we will continue to enjoy free and fair elections where the winner is the individual who received the most votes, or that we will be afforded the right to personal freedoms,” Marley said. “While New Jersey is fortunate to have a governor and state legislators that have taken steps to expand and protect our freedoms and rights, there is still more that needs to be done at every level of government.”
Protecting Our Democracy’s opening ad highlights the January 6 insurrection, abortion, and voting rights as three areas of particular emphasis. With the new group at his side, Spiller will have the ability to promote his views on those issues and more on a statewide level.
That could be important if Spiller chooses to pursue higher office down the line, which is widely expected. Two previous top gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Phil Murphy in 2017 and Republican Doug Steinhardt in 2021, created similar organizations in the lead-ups to their elections, and Protecting Our Democracy may have been formed with the 2025 gubernatorial race in mind, although he didn’t say it was.
“We will not despair just because a small minority of extremists seeks to destroy our belief in the strength of our nation, our ability to see the good in political discourse and the exchange of ideas, and our unfettered resolve to safeguard core democratic values,” Spiller said.