Prieto’s Plan to Trip Up Coughlin: Cram More Democrats Into the Assembly with Pickups in Unlikely Places


Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Democratic source noted that the ongoing leadership war slog between Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) and Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19), coupled with polling that shows Democrat Phil Murphy routing Republican Kim Guadagno, has produced in Prieto a thirst for pickups in new districts.

There’s recent history here with Coughlin last month unfurling 35 names in a 51-member caucus, first reported by InsiderNJ, to coffin nail the sitting speaker,  even as Coughlin and Prieto scheduled their own leadership fundraising events this week, first reported by InsiderNJ here and here.

The Senate Majority and DACC (Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee) are split between battling party factions, the fledgling, South Jersey-connected Coughlin with one and the apparently mortally wounded (if Dems don’t pick up any new seats) Prieto with the other.

Battleground Districts 11, 2, 16 went with Mike Muller, the veteran former DACC mind ejected by Prieto. DACC, now under the leadership of Mark Matzen and controlled by Prieto, has chosen to go after 39, 40, and 25.


With Coughlin peeling a majority of caucus votes to give himself a clear edge, Prieto is mining new territory for allies. If he can fund long-shot winners and get them to the dance, he can hold off Coughlin, or so runs his political thinking, the source said.

“People should know when they’re conquered,” a Democratic source affiliated with Coughlin told InsiderNJ, quoting Gladiator, as he assessed Prieto’s plan.

“You’re embarrassing yourself with this, bro,” he added.

But Prieto’s allies were undaunted this week.

“Hillary, I believe either won or came close to winning LD-25,” the first source said. “40 could prove to be too difficult because of Wayne.”
“It’s interesting: 25,39 and 40,” the second source mused, “that Matzen [who was with the now-Muller-affiliated Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker in 2015] is targeting. Funny thing: Amanda Davila, who was Zwicker and Josh’s fundraiser in 15 and 16, is on all those races. She’s legit. Tom Moran and Richard Corcoran, Lisa Bhamani, the Senate candidate is no joke either. They have raised I believe the most money of a non incumbent race second only to Vin [Gopal], the Democrats’ senate candidate in LD11.”

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