Jersey City Democratic Committeewoman Denise Ridley, who two weeks ago formally received the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), today formally withdrew her candidacy in a letter to supporters.
Ridley backed down amid increasing acrimony between Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31).
Fulop backed Ridley – who has ties to both the mayor’s and senator’s camps – on condition that incumbent Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31) not run for reelection.
Mainor was not available for comment. But Fulop allies say they fear his activities on the street indicate his reluctance to retreat from a reelection run.
A source said Ridley is standing down to make way for another candidate to go against Mainor; or, if Mainor does not run, a candidate who will better represent the mayor and not a combination of the mayor and the senator.
Fulop and Cunningham both had obvious personal and political ties to the late Mayor Glenn Cunningham, who backed Fulop in the mayor’s 2004 losing effort against then-U.S. Rep. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
But the pair on their own have a history of rancor, which came to a head in 2014 when Fulop dumped Cunningham’s close ally, Freeholder Jeff Dublin, in exchange for his own HCDO-backed candidate, Gerry Balmir. Following teeth-grinding negotations over the last few weeks, Fulop and Cunningham relations have crumbled to the point where the mayor and his allies no longer feel compelled to power share the seat in question.
Jersey City insiders see the divide as illustrative of deepening antagonism in the lead-up to the 2017 set-piece, where Cunningham will presumably back another candidate than Fulop (or his ally) for mayor and another candidate (other than Fulop, if he runs) for governor.
Below is reprinted Ridley’s full letter bowing out of the 31st District contest.
PolitickerNJ asked her if she has an alternative candidate she plans to endorse.
“Not at this time,” she emailed back.
Dear Voters of the 31st Legislative District,
There are a few things that I would like you to know…
First and most importantly, I would like to thank the supporters of my campaign for the Assembly seat. Your confidence and trust in me encourages me daily and is a constant reminder of the needs within our district. The residents and their needs are and should always be the focus.
I made the decision to run in this election for three reasons. There was no one running that I would vote for, no one was going to outwork me, and I knew that I would do right by the residents of the 31st District. Disagreements occur between our elected officials. It is disheartening that these disagreements, at times, negatively impact the residents. I urge our elected officials to remain focused on the needs of the district.
When two people make an agreement and one party feels the other is not holding up their end, there may be a need to step back from the agreement. Before any rumors were leaked to the press, I spoke with Mayor Fulop and he explained his issues. I respect his decision to withdraw his support based on an agreement he had with someone other than me. I do not take that personally nor do I harbor any ill feelings towards the Mayor. Please understand this one thing, Mayor Steven Fulop is not the chairman of the HCDO.
At no time did the HCDO withdraw my candidacy as their choice for the Assembly seat in the 31st District. With that being said, I would like to thank Chairman Vincent Prieto and the HCDO for the opportunity to run on the HCDO line in this election. I would also like to thank Senator Sandra Cunningham for initiating this opportunity and taking the time to make sure things were done properly.
My name and time is too valuable and my family, friends, and supporters mean too much to me for me to sit back and wait for this situation to play itself out. I do not wish to sit idly by as our elected officials sort out issues that have nothing to do with who is the best candidate for the 31st District. Effective immediately, I am withdrawing my name as the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s candidate for Assembly in the 31st District.
Again, thank you to my supporters and I will continue to work with and for the people of our community whether in an elected seat or not.
The Ridley for Assembly Campaign