INSIDERNJ’S WHO’S UP AND WHO’S DOWN: Week of Murphy’s State of the State

Jennifer Holdsworth with Pete Buttigieg.


Phil Murphy

He already has a substantial portion of the progressive movement behind him. The endorsement of Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo – first hat tipped by InsiderNJ in The Return of Brendan Gill – signified the sitting Democratic governor’s sew-up of the northern county party establishment, and certain smothering of a GN3 organization opponent (see below).

Pete Buttigieg

U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) exit from the presidential contest leaves Buttigieg (pictured above with New Jersey’s own Jennifer Holdsworth, the candidate’s national fundraiser), onstage as the last-standing, young, mid-sized city mayor candidate, proving more durable than his New Jersey rival. Their narratives were not dissimilar (from April of last year): Standing in an old converted Studebaker factory in South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made his case for the presidency in part by emphasizing hometown service as a major asset, a day after U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) launched his own prez campaign in Newark, mostly using another kicked around old factory town as a set-piece for his powers to revivify America. 

Jeff Van Drew

The Benedict Arnold incumbent pulled substantial Republican support into his corner this week, including that of state Senator Mike Testa (R-1), proving the power of President Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of his candidacy.

Dick Codey

The former Governor stayed ahead of the power curve this week when he endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for Prez. Word is that the party establishment, a segmented and scarred dinosaur whose head seems detached from its tail, will eventually lumber around to backing Biden. Codey’s early endorsement put him in the vanguard.

Michael Muller

The veteran succcessful Democratic Party operative speared the job of NJ political director for the presidential campaign of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, helping haul valuable fellow hands Ray Ferraioli and Axel Owen.


Cory Booker

He ran an ebullient race for president, but couldn’t ever put together a coherent plan of attack to break through a fairly unimpressive cast of other Democratic characters. It’s over. For now. Now he must trudge onward in the United States Senate, potentially to the acquisition of more grounded substance and gravitas, and conceivably a future, elder statesman run for prez.

Jim Keady

The perennial progressive candidate must handle a campaign crisis in the aftermath of a candidates’ forum wherein audience members excoriated Keady over an offensive email he sent to women. Now numerous Democrats want him to withdraw from the contest.

Joe Lagana

The 38th District Senator ran afoul of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) when he refused to be the 21st vote on the vaccine bill, and consequently lost his coveted judiciary committee assignment.

David Richter, et al

The Harvard-educated businessman looked to have such promise in his CD-2 congressional bid, and had shown an early willingness to scrap with incumbent Jeff Van Drew. But this week the anaconda coils  tightened as multiple GOP organizations and leaders began issuing support for Van Drew (among them Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman), now a Republican.

George Norcross

The South Jersey Democratic Party Power Broker had promised a Democratic Primary in opposition to Murphy, but this week his chief longtime northern ally issued his endorsement of the GN3-reviled governor, adding insult to the injury caused by Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones’s end-of-2019 deal-cut with Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie to decide party leadership without input from the South.

Brigid Harrison 

In a battle for the Democratic nomination in CD-2, the Montclair University Professor this week had to read in Politico about former Governor Chris Christie heading to the Bahamas for a football game-watch party organized by Norcross, whose several South Jersey party organizations back the professor in her pursuit of the 2nd District Congressional seat. As Harrison tries to define herself as a strong Democratic option in the primary, Norcross’ cozy man-cave island hop with Christie hardly helps.

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