On the same week that LUPE-PAC endorsed Councilwoman Felisha Reyes Morton, the only woman in the Camden mayoral contest shared a picture of the county primary ballot. It shows the name of the anti-establishment contender adrift with those organizationally untouchable others who do not have the backing of the Camden County Democratic Committee.
“Voter suppression isn’t only done by southern Republicans,” Reyes Morton tweeted in reference to her blatantly hard-to-find ballot placement.
It was always going to be difficult running against the machine here in this city where the county Democratic Party maintains a fierce grip on power, a situation exacerbated by the presence of two additional anti-establishment candidates in the race: School Board Member Elton Custis, and Spanish teacher Luis Quinones.
It’s certainly possible she may incur the most wrath in this closely-watched contest, from the establishment she labored in, which now backs her council colleague, Vic Carstarphen, for mayor; and from those local progressives who have fought city hall and rallied behind the candidacy of Custis, who snagged his school board seat last year off the line.
But describing herself as having been born in crisis-mode, Reyes Morton says she can do it, as the married mother of three seeks to supplant the mysteriously resigned Mayor Frank Moran.
Moran was a lifelong mentor to Reyes Morton. She worked on his campaigns going back to the age of eight. Gone, the consequence, sources say, of his finally having had simply too much of the county organization trying to muscle him, Moran disappeared in a fashion that allowed the same organization to close its ranks around Carstarphen.
Reyes Morton today told InsiderNJ that she didn’t like the way it happened.
“It was my birthday weekend and I was not paying attention when I got a particular call from the party alerting me, ‘Not sure if you heard,'” she said. “I don’t remember when I had that conversation with someone saying, ‘We’re looking to make an endorsement.’ I just found out the news and they’re already telling me the party wants to endorse [Carstarphen]. These thoughts and things and plans don’t just happen overnight, I’m sorry. I wasn’t consulted prior to the request for me to sign onto an endorsement. The fact that no conversations took place is absurd. I wont settle for less.”
Constituents were calling her, trying to gain clarity.
There wasn’t any.
“It continues to be the problem,” said the councilwoman, in reference to the county making decisions without including the governing body. “We still not have a conversation about the mayor’s resignation.
“It’s disrespectful and out of order,” Reyes Morton said.
Of her Siberian positioning on the primary ballot, she expressed little surprise.
“I knew that would be the case, for a lot of reasons the party would take me deciding to run very personal, because we were in a relationship for the past 12 years,” the councilwoman acknowledged.
For more of InsiderNJ’s exclusive interview with Councilwoman Reyes Morton, including her plans for the city, her priorities for infrastructure improvement, and how she intends to win, please see the video posted below: