Essex County’s East Orange in Gear with Oliver LG Candidacy


When Ted Green kicked off his mayoral candidacy earlier this year, Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones in support gave one of the most electrifying speeches of his tenure as chair.

It sounded almost like the Al Pacino locker room monologue from Any Given Sunday, and, given the fact that Green had token opposition at best, seemed oddly out of place. As it turned out, Green annihilated his competitors in the June 6th Primary, overkilling the competition 6,094 to 645 and 74 votes respectively registered by his rivals.

But Jones – who himself hails from East Orange – wasn’t just trying to display local power for the sole sake of local power.

He had his eye on other things, too, just as former Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) – also speaking in support of Green that day – did, the two of them intent on projecting East Orange as that staging area for Democratic Party politics in Essex.

And, as Essex goes, so do Democrats statewide.

Jones actually had something to prove.

If Essex – which produced the highest vote totals for Phil Murphy in the primary – came out of the 2017 cycle deprived of at least one leadership post – Jones and his countywide colleagues would hear jeers. But the chairman’s incessant push to land a spot of power for Oliver reasserts Essex, and those who might try to counter that the LG position is the least desirable among the four top spots – Governor, LG, Speaker, and Senate President – discount the particular nature of the candidate in question.

A would be bossed speaker when she got to the dance, survived, and became essentially uncontrollable at this point, Oliver is a veteran with her own voice, and, critically, too much power locally in her home town of East Orange and too much time in as a veteran player to have to put up with anyone trying to push her around. Murphy selecting the driven policy wonk reflects the gubernatorial candidate’s insistence on a real running mate of substance, an evolved brand; and simultaneously gives Jones not only a chance to show off a reinvigorated Essex – but to pick his own person from East Orange to replace the now Murphy-affirmed statewide and still larger-than-life Oliver.

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