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In a break from the tradition of the party committee allowing a sitting or incumbent governor to have his own choice for chair of the statewide organization, Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones this morning declared his challenge of sitting Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie.
Currie has the support of Governor Phil Murphy.
“Today, I am formally announcing my intention to run for chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee,” Jones said in a statement. “After speaking with state committee members and others across the state, I am confident that I have the support of the vast majority of the men and women who make up the Democratic State Committee to lead our party during the next presidential election and beyond.
“I deeply respect the tenure of Chairman John Currie and consider him a friend and colleague, who has admirably served our party for the past six years,” the candidate added. “However, I agree with the majority of Democratic committee members who believe it is time for us to have new leadership that will unify our party as we work to retake the White House in 2020, return our Democratic delegation to Washington and elect Democrats at all levels of government. Together, we must move past intraparty differences to achieve even greater success in the coming years. The stakes are too high for us to do anything less.”
The announcement came shortly after a statement issued by sitting Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie. Currie is also running again for the job Jones wants.
The collision apparently reflected the failure of the two sides to reach a power-sharing agreement, presumably to spare Murphy the humiliation of having to let go of his own personal choice for party chair. A Goldman Sachs alumnus who came from the outside to score the Democratic nomination, denying Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) the governorship largely on the endorsement of Currie (and Jones), Murphy remains weak within the Trenton-based party establishment.
In addition to poking Murphy in the eye and affirming his lack of political power in his own divided party, Jones’ decision to oppose Currie formally puts on ice the so-called quad county alliance of party chairs.