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The scrap for the Democratic Committee chairmanship goes on behind the scenes.
Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy and his allies – Democratic Committee Vice Chair Peg Schaffer, Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill, Executive Director Liz Gilbert and Murphy stalwart Adam Alonso – summoned eight Monmouth County Committee members to the governor’s Red Bank office.
You’re with us or against us.
But it was delivered gently, not in a threatening fashion.
“Not Phil’s style,” a source said.
Players on the other side of the field disputed that (definitely felt threatened by the governor sitting there, intimidated, a source insisted), but it is difficult to picture the governor going in there with a bat and breaking heads.
He apparently at first wanted them to sign a loyalty oath then and there to his candidate for state party chair.
They wouldn’t do it.
Got to talk to the chair. Others. The senator.
Take five days to figure it out.
If you can’t decide in five days, you can’t decide, or something like that.
Again, a Murphy ally said it wasn’t intimidating. No one left the room in tears. Yes, they did feel bullied. Brass balled, a Jones ally insisted.
Murphy wants the committee members to back the reelection of sitting Chairman John Currie, who was not in the room at the pow-wow.
The party establishment fighting Murphy on nearly ever front wants Essex County Committee Chairman Leroy Jones.
Monmouth County Democratic Committee Chairman Dave Brown has already endorsed Jones.
But Murphy wants individual soldiers to override the chairman and back Currie.
A source told InsiderNJ that eight committee members received an invitation to the governor’s digs.
Five showed up. Another source said seven.
And they got five days to mull over where they stand.
Or they’re off the team.
They hemmed. They hawed.
“We’ll, uh, talk to Dave.”
Of the total number, supposed two were ready to back Currie, but that’s a disputed number.
The whole purpose of the meeting, a Murphy ally said, was to circle back with committee members after Currie got cold-cocked by the Jones challenge (or the expression of his will, at the very least, by his allies) last Christmas.