An apparent casualty of the map, state Senator Nia Gill and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones never really got along, going back at least to 20o3.
That was the year a fight erupted in Essex County as Assemblyman Jones – the future county Democratic chairman – opposed Gill in the Party Primary as the newly minted senator attempted to secure a full, four year term.
Jones ran on the line with Essex County Freeholder Sheila Oliver of East Orange, and Peter C. Eagler of Clifton. Financed in part by state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20), Gill beat Jones by 1,000 votes, but it was a split ticket outcome, as both Oliver and Eagler (who replaced Willis Edwards) also won their assembly seats.
In 2005, Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-34) of Montclair supplanted Eagler as Essex dominated the 34th District.
That same year, South Jersey began making its move on Senator Dick Codey, seeking to replace him with the late state Senator John Adler (D-6). To throw Adler off his trail, Codey made the South Jersey lawmaker Senate Judiciary chairman, which infuriated state Senators Sharpe James and Ronald L. Rice.
Flirting with South Jersey, the pair got behind Gill as an alternative to Codey, but the revolt only lasted for a day, as the sitting senate president coaxed in his county allies.
Now, Gill finds herself crunched into a district with Codey, who himself never had an organizationally intimate relationship with the chairman of his home county.
Gill, a Montclair resident, is expected to run for reelection in a newly configured 27th district that
includes Livingston, Millburn, Codey’s hometown of Roseland, West Orange, Montclair and Clifton. So is Codey, a former governor, with strong name ID, and nearly 50 years in the legislature.
A potential third candidate, Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) – a longtime Codey slate mate who has long wanted to advance but felt bottled up by Codey – may also want to take a crack at the senate seat.
Apparently, he spoke with Jones earlier today as he attempts to figure out a plan for his political future.
With Jones poised to empower and protect his ally, Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-34) in a newly conceived 34th District where she will serve as the new African American woman senator, and more recent history that includes Gill blocking a Jones appointment, it would appear that Gill, the veteran lawmaker from Montclair, is not strongly positioned to get the chairman’s support.
Maybe the least likely of the three prospects, given the history.
In any event, Gill and Codey – longtime players – both look ready to run off the line if it comes to that.