NEWARK – If John Currie and Leroy Jones had just sparred in backroom friendly fashion over the LG spot, Kevin McCabe stepped onto Jones’ turf here this morning looking like a fellow chairman intent on dethroning Jones as the best dressed man in Essex County.
McCabe, who serves as chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Committee, radiated Glengarry Glenn Ross intensity in the sweat-drenched confines of Murphy’s makeshift HQ on Broad Street. He looked a little like the out-of-town fangled Alec Baldwin visiting an extra crunched-together blue collar quarters: in it but not exactly of it.
His charge, Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19) circulated, amid sources chattering “It’s over” in the laziest imaginable assessment of Coughlin’s impending showdown with Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32). But whatever lists of names were afoot to prove the caucus allies of Coughlin had the numbers to dump Prieto and replace him, and even with the imposing presence of McCabe in the room, Jones wouldn’t go there.
“We’ve got time for that – it’s a process,” the Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman insisted when prodded by InsiderNJ. “We have to get Phil [Murphy] elected.
“That will be done in time and the right way,” he said, the images lingering of a beaming Prieto, given proper respect at the event with tableau visibility at the front of the room as Coughlin found himself cheek by jowl with the likes of his fellow legislative colleagues.
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) of South Jersey, who dutifully routinely made the trek up to Newark when he was a candidate for governor, was not in the room this morning. He and Murphy’s choice for LG, Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver (D-34), don’t get along. (Sweeney did release an affirmative statement, however, which can be read here). Almost the entirety of South Jersey, in fact, didn’t end up enamored of Oliver, and among the state Senator Nellie Pou’s (D-35) and Assemblyman Jamel Holley’s (D-20) today, and a roving Coughlin and affirmative McCabe, South Jersey showed up collectively as MIA.
Yet Prieto wouldn’t be offered up as North Jersey’s sacrifice to land Oliver for LG, Jones said.
He didn’t even talk to McCabe in there today, he said.
“Too hot,” the Essex chairman said, choosing instead to focus instead on the moment of Oliver’s ascension.
“It’s more significant for the people of the state than Essex County,” he said of Murphy’s LG selection. “Sheila Oliver is a cross cultural candidate who appeals to many individuals, but there’s no refuting that this is a great day for Essex County. We are proud and pleased to have a person of this caliber running for this office. Sheila handled this entire process with dignity, and that’s why she was selected.”
Jones doubly expressed his pride as a resident of East Orange, which is also Oliver’s home town. “East Orange is swelling with a sense of pride that I haven’t seen in decades, and I’m proud to be a small part of it,” the chairman said.