It looks as though Ray Lesniak has picked up his first major endorsement: Steven Goldstein, the founder and former leader of Garden State Equality. Goldstein retains much influence among progressives. And he’s an experienced political hand in that he used to work for Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and managed Jon Corzine’s successful 2000 primary vs. Jim Florio.
The Teaneck gay rights activist is also a former rabbinical student, a tv news producer and a Rutgers professor and more recently had the honor of being portrayed by Steve Carell in the 2015 feature film Freeheld, which told the true story of Laurel Hester, the Ocean County police lieutenant who fought to transfer her pension to her female domestic partner.
Goldstein is particularly close to Bergen County matriarch State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), who reportedly calls him “my third child or, as we refer to him, my easiest birth.” With Phil Murphy locking up establishment support, this apparent endorsement breathes some life into Lesniak’s longshot campaign. Previously it had been reported (including in Observer) that Lesniak would take a pass at this year’s race. But earlier this year, the Union County fixture changed his mind, saying the state’s economy is just too vulnerable not to take up arms.
Lesniak has served in the State Senate since 1983 and has also been the chair of the state Democratic Party.