Appearing to put an end to what was an ongoing war for speaker, and coffin-nailing sitting Speaker Vincent Prieto’s chances at re-upping for another term, the Essex Delegation today formally filed in behind Assemblyman Craig Coughlin for Speaker.
“After several months of deliberation that recently concluded with one-on-one discussions with each member of our Assembly Delegation, including Mila M. Jasey and John F. McKeon from District 27, Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker from District 28, Eliana Pintor and Shanique Speight (Democratic Candidate) from District 29, and Thomas Giblin from District 34, the membership has reached a consensus to support Assemblyman Craig Coughlin as the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly for the next legislative session,” said Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones.
Essex had played footsy with Middlesex and Coughlin, with Pinto Marin going out early in support of the Woodbridge Assemblyman dumping Prieto. In May, Coughlin released a list of 28 names in support of his speaker candidacy, and subsequently heard some North Jersey jeers from those who said he needed to finish Prieto pronto. He couldn’t. But following Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy’s selection of Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-34) for lieutenant governor, the ground appeared fertile for a switch. Now he apparently has 35 names with him in a 51-member (minus Oliver) caucus.
Coughlin released a statement shortly after the list appeared.
“I am immensely grateful that so many members from the Essex County delegation have placed their trust in me to lead the General Assembly in the next session,” he said. “With the support of these Assemblymen and women, 35 members of the General Assembly have now committed to voting for me as speaker in January.
“These members represent a diverse coalition from across the state, both demographically and geographically,” the assemblyman added. “It is time to put the regional fights of the past behind us and to unite as Democrats and New Jerseyans to turn the page on the Christie era. In the coming weeks, I am confident that more Assemblymembers will join our effort. It is critical that we work together to elect Democrats to the General Assembly and that we work with our colleagues in the state senate and our next governor, Phil Murphy, to ensure that we enact a middle-class agenda that has New Jersey’s back.”
Jones was happy to do an end-zone dance on his behalf.
“It is my belief that, as Speaker, Assemblyman Coughlin will provide strong leadership to the New Jersey General Assembly and will work in partnership with our Democratic nominee for Governor, Ambassador Phil Murphy, and his running mate for Lt. Governor, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver,” said Jones, who noted Oliver’s omission from these discussions due to her involvement in the Governor’s Campaign. “Together, along with our Essex Delegation in the Assembly, we will be able to address the challenges of fiscal responsibility, quality education, strengthening our middle class, job creation and improving the overall quality of life for all our residents that our state faces in the immediate future.”