It’s real. Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) is eyeballing a run for Congress in the 9th District.
That’s the seat now occupied by veteran incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9).
“I have submitted a letter to interview for the 9th Congressional District to the Passaic County Chair and committee,” said Sumter.
She also plans to participate in the Bergen County Democratic Convention.
Earlier this year, sources told InsiderNJ that Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh would not run against Pascrell.
The mayor had flag-poled it, eyeballed it, but ultimately decided against challenging the longtime congressman.
Sumter, however, was making calls this week and organizing what looks like a legitimate offensive, if not for 2024, well, then for 2026, if Sayegh is already also pawing at the turf in anticipation of the end of the Pascrell era.
There’s also the possibility, too, of Sumter going now, hard, with Sayegh on the sidelines, if Passaic County Democratic Committee Chairman John Currie seeks a direction away from Pascrell.
In addition, a contentious top-of-the-ticket U.S. Senate contest makes the possibility of an off-the-line congressional candidacy a little more compelling than usual.
Pascrell has come under increasing criticism from Paterson’s Palestinian community over his reluctance to call for a cease-fire in the Middle East.
The Pascrell camp has spent the past year fending off speculation about a primary challenge from Sayegh, and seemed to have clear sailing when the mayor disclosed Monday that he would not run against his former political mentor.
But the clear sailing for Pascrell was short-lived with the emergence of Sumter as a possible candidate.
Passaic County Democrats’ screening committee is scheduled to hold interviews with prospective candidates for Congress and county commissioner on Saturday.
The deadline for submitting letters of interest for the screening was Jan. 26. But party leaders said the cutoff date was “an internal” one and that Sumter would be allowed to participate in the process.