Currie Keeping His Powder Dry on Prez Politics (for Now)


Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie this morning said he intends to wait and see in terms of presidential politics in 2020.

Having just survived a party war, and prevailed as the victor and chair of the party for another two years, he doesn’t see Cory Booker dropping out as merely another invitation to open old political wounds or heap salt on them.

Can Democrats avoid an all-out kick start to their fighting proclivities?

“I’m confident we will as we go forward,” Currie told InsiderNJ.

A big Booker backer as long as Booker was in the contest, he refused to immediately endorse a candidate for president.

“We will have a better idea where we’re going after March,” Currie said.

As for Booker’s flameout, “I am disapponted,” the chairman added. “He was doing well with his organization and many significant emdorsements he put together. But if the votes are not there, he did not make the last two debate stages, I understand.”

A source close to Governor Phil Murphy – a key Currie ally – said the governor intends to stay neutral for now in the presidnential contest. Multiple sources have told InsiderNJ the governor – himself a veteran of the Obama Administration – likes former Vice President Joe Biden. The organization of Murphy backers leans Biden. One source went so far as to speculate out loud – amid a cold sweat of his own impending choices – “I know the organization is going Biden.”

One thing that would confirm that is the fast emergence of a Biden counter for Mike Bloomberg led by an associate of the South Jersey Democratic machine at war with Murphy.

Still, that doesn’t account for the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing of the party, which has stuck with Murphy through hard statewide battles. Sanders’s son campaigned for Murphy in 2017 to blunt the progressive causes of then-rivals, and Analilia Mejia, formerly head of NJ Working Families, a key Murphy ally, serves as Sanders’s national political director. The national Working Families operation backs Warren. It may be muddy enough for Murphy to ultimately back Biden.

An early Jersey extension of a party war would appear to pit Bloomberg against Biden, but South Jersey – like Murphy – has ties to Biden, a former Delaware Senator. There’s a regional bond there. Might Biden be a temporary adhesive to the otherwise inflamed and at odds Murphy and South Jersey? One source did mention some mild pushing and shoving already going on about who would run operations for Biden if and when it actually gets to that point.

“I would like have a conversation with the governor,” the state chair said before acknowledging that he would advise Murphy to stay out of the national primary fray for now.

As for Booker’s statewide intentions, “I am wholeheartedly supporting him for senate,” Currie said.

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