LD20 Battleground: Cryan Gives Pot Debate Update from the Trenton Trenches


Facing reelection this year in a Democratic Primary, state Senator Joe Cryan (D-20) this evening in an InsiderNJ interview considered the terrain of his district, the challenges of COVID-19, redistricting past and present, and a specific way forward for marijuana legalization and decriminalization.

“The caucus is divided,” said Cryan, in reference to marijuana legalization.

But “We will have a bill that the senate judiciary committee will pass on Friday; and the senate will pass this out on Monday.”

It will contain changes Cryan says the governor wants.

“The debate has been about young people and their interactions with law enforcement, including [specifics about] ounces and the penalty.”

Cryan said he expects the under-age penalty – if there is one – will be two years and expire on an offender’s 21st birthday.

“One thing I can assure you is no one can be completely happy,” the senator added.

“I never speak for Phil Murphy,” he added of the governor, “but I don’t think we would be going through these efforts without the support of the governor.”

A white male Democrat seeking reelection in a party that purports to be diverse and yet buttresses three white males in the main seats of Trenton Leadership, Cryan addressed the large white male power concentration in his party.

“Take a look at the record,” said the senator. “I served under [then-Speaker] Sheila Oliver. When we talk about records, it’s not labels, but what you’ve done. I have no problem talking about racial justice and social justice. My opponents [including former slate mate Assemblyman Jamel Holley] don’t see that you have to represent all of the district.”

Cryan and Holley especially clash on vaccinations.

“Public safety is the most important issue; clearly we have more to do with the business community,” the senator said.

He touched on his own legislative record in the interview, noting key bills he has championed.

He also considered the texture and direction of his party.

Democrats have backed two Goldman Sachs guys for governors in 2005, 2009, 2017 and 2021, while shying away from staunchly supporting a woman in 2013 for fear of offending then-Republican Governor Chris Christie.

Does Cryan believe Democrats and Goldman Sachs are perfect together for New Jersey’s foreseeable future?

“People have taken a look at Phil Murphy in this pandemic… they have made a value choice that he believes in public safety,” the senator said. “Are businesses upset? Certainly. But the public has pretty much made a choice that the guy has my back. Do I think a state lawmaker can [run in the future and win]? I do. It feels like Donald Trump was president 100 years ago. …This isn’t a media state. It’s hard to get your message out.

“But a lawmaker who has created an aura of trust and has the ability to get things done [can do it],” he added. That said, ” You better have a record that goes with that. [Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli [R-16], who’s running for governor this year], he said, “doesn’t really have a record.”

Find all that and much more below:

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