Murphy Versus Steinhardt, the Aggressive Last Push in LD21, Juliano Prevailed Upon, and other Notes

Phil Murphy and Doug Steinhardt

The Democrats felt buoyed by late polling and a 1,500 VBM advantage in LD21, while putting a late sneak attack emphasis on LD39 in hopes of picking off Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-39), whom they perceive to be weak.

Thirty-nine could prove, at the end of it, to be the head fake of the season.

Right now, Democrats playing in LD21 are less certain late about their chances in LD25, where Assemblyman Tony Bucco (R-25) and his running mate, Brian Bergen, are trying to maintain Republican control.

The polling hasn’t been as consistent for the Dems in LD25 as it has been in LD21.

“It’s been a little choppy, hard to read,” a source told InsiderNJ.

It’s still a battleground, and winnable by the challengers.

As if proving the point about Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s (R-21) district, Governor Phil Murphy added another campaign event today in LD21, a Westfield stop with U.S. Rep. Tom Malnowski (D-7), who very early endorsed the Democratic ticket of Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman.

The governor this morning was also in Bergen, where for about a week, those aligned with Essex Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones and those on the other side with Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie turned the arms of Bergen Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano into an old fashioned taffy pull.

Murphy allies wanted Juliano to issue an endorsement for their choice of Currie for state party chairman at the Bergen chair’s breakfast event. But Juliano was getting word from the other side that he shouldn’t tick off DACC allies just yet, considering the late money to LD39 and the fact that they’ve contributed to making LD38 noncompetitive. DACC tentacles run back to the same engine room powering Jones’ as-yet unofficial challenge of Currie.

After all the back drama and late attempts at arm-twisting, Juliano this morning ended up standing with Murphy and issuing his formal statement of support for Currie.

Of additional interest on the trail: Republican Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt maintained a schedule this weekend to rival (or surpass) the governor, perhaps lending credence to the theory that Steinhardt looks to nab the GOP nomination for governor in 2021 to run against Murphy. Or maybe he’s just being a strong and visible chairman. Whatever the case, and maybe with an eye on the movements of former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), who’s running for governor and who has also been very active on the trail this season, Steinhardt has absolutely made the argument for himself as the Republican Party’s most obvious statewide counterpunch to Murphy.

More later.


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