Essex and Middlesex counties teamed up in the Phil Murphy years, and now with the shackles of South Jersey dominance finally shaken loose, sources anticipate a battle between the two political powerhouses.
Hearty friends at the moment, Essex and Middlesex could erupt as early as the ongoing legislative redistricting process, if they end up fighting over which of the two of them has to lose a senator, for example.
The two counties, the former led by Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones and the latter led by Middlesex County Democratic Organization Chairman Kevin McCabe, might also find themselves entangled over the 2025 prospect of governor.
Although the county has several potential candidates, among them Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Essex, sources say, sees a strong statewide opportunity for U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11), the former prosecutor and Navy helicopter pilot from Montclair.
Middlesex appears dedicated to the candidacy of Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) of Woodbridge, who has served as speaker of the General Assembly for the last four years.
The two counties could end up going head to head, or they could stick together in a play to land both governor and senate president:
Middlesex gets Governor Coughlin and Essex gets Senate President Ruiz;
Essex gets Governor Sherrill and Middlesex gets senate President Joe Vitale.
Of course, other counties and players will have something to say about it, too; but to date, Essex’s strength, (based on raw registered Democratic Party totals) and Middlesex’s strength (five totally aligned senators in the Democratic column within the county boundaries and rock solid alliances with at least two more), give Jones and McCabe a power edge.
It brings us to today’s InsiderNJ question of the day, if you could pick from only these two as the mre likely statewide party standard bearer in 2025 to go up against (presumably) Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli: