Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has scheduled a 2 p.m. “important announcement” in front of City Hall regarding the 2017 elections.
A source tells PolitickerNJ that Fulop intends to declare his decision not to run for governor next year, but no one from Fulop world will confirm.
There is turmoil in the mayor’s camp.
If the source is right, it would represent a major shift in the developing contest.
After carving out a position for himself as a statewide force in preparation for a 2017 shot at Drumthwacket, Fulop’s decision to forego a gubernatorial run would come amid ongoing testimony in the Bridgegate trial and speculation about the defense of Bridget Kelly summoning the mayor to the stand.
There is no evidence his announcement to quit the race is related to that, however. A source told PolitickerNJ that his decision is based on Passaic County falling away from him into the Phil Murphy for Governor column.
Never officially a candidate for governor, Fulop stirred statewide discussions as early as 2013, when he first won the mayoralty in his home city. Guv talk started even before he won, with incumbent Mayor Jerry Healy routinely noting that Fulop would almost certainly abandon Jersey City for higher office.
For the past year, at least in terms of key organizational support, it could be argued that the mayor commanded the upper hand in a three-way contest with Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and retired Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy. The mayor’s departure from the contest would set up a showdown now between Sweeney, who has the backing of South Jersey and possibly Essex County; and Murphy, who has strong support in Middlesex County and well dug pockets in Passaic, Bergen and Essex.
Two sources say PolitickerNJ that Fulop will back Murphy over Sweeney.
Democrats State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Paterson) have all kicked around gubernatorial plans.
Fulop’s troubles started mainly after he got into a public statewide spat with powerful South Jersey boss George Norcross III. The pair clashed on North Jersey casinos and the Atlantic City bailout, with the mayor accusing Norcross, who is not an elected official, of unduly influencing the process.
A source close to the developing story told PolitickerNJ that he hoped the story is not true, and prayed that Jersey City could break the curse of never successfully fielding a mayor ascended to governor.