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Former Vice President Joe Biden during a campaign appearance for Rep. Mikie Sherrill at Montclair State University in 2018. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Four more N.J. House members endorse Joe Biden

Pascrell, Norcross, Gottheimer, Sherill back former VP for Democratic presidential nomination

By David Wildstein, March 11 2020 7:00 am

Four more New Jersey House members – Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), Donald Norcross (D-Camden), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) – have endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination.

That brings the total number of congressional endorsements for Biden to nine in a state that Cory Booker had locked up before his exit from the race in January. Biden is expected to gain more support from key New Jersey Democrats as early as today.

“I believe the candidate to who can best win in November, deliver victories up and down the ballot, and fight for expansion of our health care, reversing climate change, and rebuilding our middle class is my friend Joe Biden,” said Pascrell, a 12-term Democrat.

During his 36 years as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, Biden was in New Jersey so frequently that he was often called the state’s third senator.

Despite his frequent appearances in New Jersey for Democratic candidates – he first campaigned in the state on October 4, 1973, stumping for gubernatorial candidate Brendan Byrne – Biden failed to receive any significant party support during his 1988 and 2008 White House bids.

Now New Jerseyans are beginning to flock to the former vice president, now the front runner for his party’s nomination.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Democratic State Chairman John Currie, and Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch) and Albio Sires (D-West New York) have still not indicated a preference in the Democratic presidential contest.

Party leaders have still not decided whether New Jersey Democrats will have an open presidential primary, although Democrats are increasingly suggesting that several organizations will back Biden.  Menendez had proposed a plan to have no organization lines for that race.

The Menendez Plan came at a time when some Democrats believed Biden was faltering and Bernie Sanders was surging, and there were still seven Democrats contending for the nomination.

After Iowa and New Hampshire, with the field of Democratic contenders still at seven and speculation of a brokered convention, it looked as though New Jersey’s June 2 primary could play a major role in selecting a nominee.

Now, with Biden winning South Carolina, nine Super Tuesday primaries, and scoring wins last night in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho, the idea of the race coming down to New Jersey is appearing less likely, but hardly uncertain.

Joe Biden with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson).  Photo courtesy of Rep. Pascrell.

Pascrell said that “defeating Donald Trump and replacing his inept and corrupt government is our highest priority.”

“America needs a president with the integrity, experience and strength to unite our diverse nation while fighting for progressive Democratic priorities,” said Norcross. “Biden exemplifies those values, and he’s always stood up for working families in New Jersey and across the country. I am proud to call Joe a friend, and I can’t wait to call him President of the United States.”

Two of the Biden endorsements come from North Jersey House members who had endorsed Michael Bloomberg last month: Gottheimer and Sherrill.

“Throughout a lifetime of public service, including his many years in the Senate and his service in the White House, Joe Biden has worked to bridge our partisan divide, finding ways we can all work together to build a stronger future for all of our families,” Gottheimer said. “Joe Biden has always stepped up for his country and he is the right candidate to now lead us and move our nation forward.”

Sherrill said that Biden has been defined by his “compassion and his understanding of the needs of working families.”

“I believe that he will deliver a stronger, more prosperous future for the country and, importantly, for New Jersey’s families,” the freshman congresswoman said.

The Biden Bandwagon

Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano endorsed Biden on Monday evening, along with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, State Sens. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) and Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus), six Democratic members of the State Assembly, and all ten countywide elected officials.

The Bergen endorsements come two days before the Democratic county convention, which could put Biden on the organization line there if Juliano decides to do that.

Booker announced his support of Biden on Monday.  Former Governors Richard Codey, Jon Corzine and Jim Florio have also endorsed the former vice president.

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) endorsed Biden on January 14, the day after Booker dropped out.  Support from Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark) came a week later.  Three days after Pete Buttigieg dropped out, Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton) backed Biden.  Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), a favorite of New Jersey progressives, came out for Biden on Monday afternoon.

The other major presidential contender, Bernie Sanders, has the backing of the New Jersey CWA state director, Hetty Rosenstein, and Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz.

Sanders’ national political director, Analilia Mejia, also has deep New Jersey ties as the former executive director of New Jersey Working Families.

Biden has beaten Sanders in four consecutive contests for endorsements by New Jersey county political organizations.

He beat Sanders with 81% in Atlantic County and 74% in Warren County on Sunday.  Sanders had carried Warren four years ago in the New Jersey primary against Hillary Clinton.

Biden also won convention votes in Burlington and Mercer counties last week, both by huge margins.

In a ranked-choice vote in Mercer on Wednesday, Biden defeated Elizabeth Warren, 946 to 577, with 441 for Sanders.

On Thursday evening, hours after Warren withdrew, Biden defeated Bernie Sanders with 74% of the vote, 98 to 34 in Burlington County.  One delegate voted not to endorse anyone.

Party by-laws give the three Democratic county chairs — Janice Mironov of Mercer, Joseph Andl of Burlington and Michael Suleiman of Atlantic — the authority to determine which candidate, if any, gets the organization line.

Warren won the first-in-the-state presidential convention in February, taking Hunterdon County on the third ballot by four votes over Bloomberg.

As New Jersey moves forward at presidential endorsements at a furious pace, Morris County is headed in the other direction.

A convention to pick an organization line candidate was cancelled by Democratic County Chairman Chip Robinson, who is sticking with the open primary format.

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