NJ Governor’s Race 2017: Feb 27 – March 5

A recurring feature that tracks the developing race to Drumthwacket

State Senator Ray Lesniak has pledged to mount a grass roots campaign for the Democratic nomination.

State Senator Ray Lesniak has pledged to mount a grass roots campaign for the Democratic nomination. Max Pizarro for Observer

Most of the people who want Chris Christie’s job next year spent much of the week commenting on the Governor’s annual budget address to the Legislature.

Phil Murphy received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.  He had a standing room only crowd at the UFCW Local 1261 headquarters in Clifton, and in a speech in Pleasantville, he pledged to end the state takeover of Atlantic City. Last Sunday, Murphy won the Warren County Democratic convention, beating John Wisniewski by a vote of 44-22. It was a relatively strong showing for The Wiz, given previous near-unanimous wins for Murphy. But Wisniewski did attend the convention, eliminating the “I Was Boycotting” argument to explain his 2-1 loss in an open vote.

PolitickerNJ.com got under Wisniewski’s skin this week with a hard-hitting story about how Main Street lawyer Wiz was representing a multi-billion dollar publicly-traded (i.e. Wall Street) corporation which has entered into an eight-figure settlement to clean up land they polluted in Carteret – a town in Wiz’s legislative district.  His campaign responded with a fundraising appeal that accused this news site with coordinating an attack with “corrupt” Wall Streeter Murphy.  We are waiting for our apology.

Raymond Lesniak skipped the Warren County vote, and announced last week that he was mounting a grass roots campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Check out PolitickerNJ’s previous Gov Race Wrap-Ups:

The Week That Was (Feb 20 – Feb 26)

The Week That Was (Feb 13 – Feb 19)

The Week That Was (Feb 6 – Feb 12)

The Week That Was (Jan 30 – Feb 5)

ELEC gave Jim Johnson final approval for $652,008 in public financing. With the same media team that helped Bill deBlasio come from single digits to win the 2013 New York City Mayor’s race—and with Wisniewski and Lesniak struggling—could the unknown former U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury emerge as a real contender in June? And would a surprise second place showing put him on Murphy’s short list for Lt. Governor?

With the Bergen County Prosecutor announcing that he won’t file charges against Gov. Chris Christie in the Bridgegate matter, Christie irritant Bill Brennan will need to figure out his next move. For the outspoken and persistent retired firefighter, that usually isn’t a problem.

Mark Zinna was at the press conference in Tenafly (where he is Council President) as Gov. Christie, Sens. Menendez and Booker, Rep. Gottheimer, and State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg spoke out against recent anti-Semitic threats. From all appearances, the CBS New York reporter who spoke to him didn’t know Zinna is running for Governor.

Lisa McCormick told PolitickerNJ.com last week that if we don’t cover her campaign for Governor, she won’t talk to us after she wins.  There’s an old joke from the reading of a rich uncle’s will that goes something like this: “To my nephew Jerome, who told me that I would never remember him in my will—Hello, Jerome.” All kidding aside, McCormick, a Bernie Sanders backer who won an impressive 44% against veteran Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi in the 2010 Democratic primary, has been mounting an aggressive social media campaign that might prove appealing to the Sanders wing of the NJ Democratic Party.

Kim Guadagno qualified for matching funds after raising at least $430,000. She also formally won her first organization line: Hudson County, where Chairman Jose Arango had already endorsed her.

Jack Ciattarelli announced some very good news: that his doctors have declared him cancer free. He also received an endorsement of the South Brunswick Republican Committee – not particularly surprising news, since this is one of the towns in his Assembly district. Ciattarelli has the backing of six other Middlesex GOP municipal chairs (East Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Milltown, South River, and Monroe).  He will face off against Guadagno and the rest of the Republican pack later this month in a vote for the endorsement of the Middlesex County GOP screening committee, and for the organization line at the Republican County Convention. Guadagno has been endorsed by Middlesex GOP County Chair Lucille Panos, and by the Republican municipal chairs in Dunellen, Highland Park, Sayreville, Helmetta, and Plainsboro.

Steve Rogers was the only other candidate to appear with Ciattarelli at the South Brunswick forum.  The Nutley Commissioner and retired police lieutenant and Naval Intelligence officer is making a compelling case that he backed Donald Trump for president when Guadagno and Ciattarelli would not. He also picked up the backing of Sussex Borough Councilman Walter Cleary III.

Former Saturday Night Live cast member Joe Piscopo had Observer editor-in-chief Ken Kurson on his radio show and discussed the importance of “having the line” in a primary election, a possible indication that he’s still considering a 2017 campaign for Governor of New Jersey.

Another Republican joined the race for Governor this week: Hirsh Vardhan Singh, a businessman and engineer from Atlantic County. Besides being virtually unknown with no apparent base of political support, here’s one other problem for the fledgling campaign: the guy is an NJIT graduate who works in systems engineering and information technology, but his website takes forever to load. Try it.

A second Atlantic City man also became a candidate for Governor: Mike Price, a registered Democrat from Egg Harbor Township, says he will run as an Independent. Price’s slogan is a familiar one these days: Main Street, Not Wall Street. Not sure the Price is Right on that one.

NJ Governor’s Race 2017: Feb 27 – March 5