The list of credible LGBTQ candidates running for higher office this year in NJ is growing.
Christian Fuscarino runs Garden State Equality, NJ’s largest LGBTQ organization.
“2021 is shaping up to be the year of the queer candidate in New Jersey,” Fuscarino told InsiderNJ. “In the legislature, we have zero representation from the LGBTQ+ community and to fill that gap, our community has two seasoned (Senate) candidates running–on both sides of the aisle. This year the question isn’t whether our community can produce strong candidates, rather the question is which party’s state leadership will get behind an LGBTQ+ candidate first.”
Democrats talk about equality and inclusion all the time. So it’s gonna be really ironic if the NJ GOP sends more gays to Trenton than the dems do.
Which actually might happen. Let’s focus on a couple senate races first and finish with a race for Jersey City Council.
When former Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian launched his campaign to represent NJ’s 2nd legislative district in Trenton, it looked like a top-flight recruit for the NJ GOP in a very competitive district. LD2 is comprised of 17 Atlantic County towns notably Atlantic City and Egg Harbor Township.
But GOP fortunes took a hit when LD2 GOP Senator Chris Brown announced he won’t run for re-election this year.
Now Don Guardian wants to lead that ticket.
“Originally, I thought I could best serve as one of the two Assembly candidates with Senator Chris Brown leading our delegation,” Mr. Guardian said. “After today’s announcement and with overwhelming support to run for the open Senate seat, I am excited to announce my candidacy for State Senate.”
Don Guardian has a decent chance to win in November if he makes it onto the ballot. His biggest challenge may be the Atlantic County GOP nominating convention on March 20, when the party faithful christen their 2021 lineup of Senate and Assembly candidates.
Micah Rasmussen runs the Rebovich Institute for NJ Politics at Rider University.
“All eyes will be on Atlantic County in this year’s legislative elections,” Mr. Rasmussen told InsiderNJ. “This is why all the top-tier potential Republican candidates who were already considering a run now really pays off, because it gives the party the ability to choose its strongest combination (of candidates.”)
Prediction: Don Guardian makes it onto the ticket (possibly in the Assembly slot) and squeaks out a victory in November.
Vincent Solomeno of Hazlet is the latest gay candidate to toss his name into the ring for a high profile office. Solomeno the Democrat is challenging the incumbent Republican Senator Declan O’Scanlon in NJ’s 13th legislative district. That’s in Monmouth County btw where Middletown (pop. 67K) and Marlboro (41k) are the largest towns.
So what’s Mr. Solomeno’s plan to defeat a popular incumbent?
“Serving my community and my state comes as second nature to me,” Mr. Solomeno, an Army National Guardsman told InsiderNJ. “I’m hoping we can do it by focusing on good paying jobs, outstanding public schools, and holding the line on taxes to make Jersey a more affordable place to live.”
Mr. Solomeno cited the Monmouth County Real Property Assessment Demonstration Program (ADP) as “the bane of homeowners’ existence” and wants it scrapped.
“For homeowners in places like Middletown, the cost of living is already high, and this was just another example of how out-of-touch this districts’ Senator is to the residents.”
A decorated Veteran and a former Fulbright scholar, Mr Solomeno must continue his overachiever streak if he hopes to win in November.
Prediction: This is a tough district for a Democrat and O’Scanlon should win. Win or lose, Vincent Solomeno will impress a lot of people on the trail this year.
Jersey City’s lead municipal prosecutor Jake Hudnut worked with Mayor Steve Fulop to ostensibly decriminalize cannabis in NJ’s 2nd largest town, a drug reform collaboration that began about 4 years ago.
Now Mr. Hudnut, #30 on last year’s OUT 100 Power List, is running for the Ward E spot on Jersey City council. Mr. Hudnut wants to displace incumbent James Solomon, a rare voice of independence in Hudson County Politics.
It’s an intriguing evolution for Mr. Hudnut, pictured celebrating Mr. Solomon’s win in 2017. Perhaps the idea of running on the Hudson County line with Mayor Fulop’s bottomless war chest proved irresistible for someone as ambitious as Mr. Hudnut. So he’s challenging the man whose win he toasted last time around.
Perhaps Mr Hudnut is showing other LGBTQs the best template for political success in NJ politics. You simply cut a deal with your local Machine and do whatever it takes to get their blessing.
Prediction: On a ticket prepared to spend whatever it takes, Jake Hudnut should win the Ward E seat on city council in NJ’s 2nd largest town.
Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer, podcaster, and videographer whose Radical Gay Agenda included getting the government out of your womb and your bong. He’s on Twitter @Jay_Lass.