Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie wants Shavonda Sumter for Lieutenant Governor. But Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo want Assemblyman Sheila Oliver (D-34).
Ultimately, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy will make the call, but both wings are tugging hard at his sleeves.
The smart money has been on Sumter, given her ties to savvy veteran Currie. But Essex is making the case that Currie needs to give up his statewide vision for Sumter if he wants to continue as state party chairman.
Currie is due to receive the support of the Democratic Party Committee at its reorganization meeting tomorrow. The support of the committee would give him another six months on the clock.
County to county, Essex had the best numbers, Jones and DiVincenzo are arguing to the Murphy camp.
“Plus they get fresh blood in the assembly,” a source told InsiderNJ.
Oliver would have to give up her legislative seat to serve as LG. A fractured Essex – chock full of egos wriggling off the Joe D. reservation – absolutely infuriated Governor Chris Christie, who trusted that his political relationship with the county executive would produce reliable votes in assembly fistfights.
Promoting the intellectually curious and willful Oliver (she once ran for U.S. Senate in defiance of the party pooh-bahs) up and out would give the party establishment a chance to recruit a controllable commodity for the seat. Her departure would also create an opening for a deputy county administrator, the county job Oliver now holds.
But is Murphy ready to be saddled with someone who could regularly go off the reservation?
Essex sources jeer that Sumter was a Republican at one point, and lacks the experience of Oliver, a former speaker.
“She wants it,” an Essex source said of the veteran assemblywoman.
A third source offered this assessment, “Oliver has a real shot. …But… [Murphy World] is afraid to tell John [Currie] that Sumter can’t be it.”