The Latest Sign of Division in State Democratic Party

NJTV News | January 8, 2019 | Politics
Party chairmen around the state take sides in a show of support for proxies of Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney

John Currie has been the Democratic Party’s state chairman for five-and-half years. Last month, Essex County Democratic chairman LeRoy Jones let it be known he might challenge Currie for the state chairmanship next January. County Democratic chairmen around the state immediately started taking sides.

As of Monday, 11 county chairs have endorsed Jones, seven have endorsed Currie and three are neutral. That’s even as Jones says he’s not yet an official candidate. The endorsements mirror where the counties stand on support for Gov. Phil Murphy or Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Currie is seen as a partner of the governor while Jones is seen as an ally of Sweeney. Currie ran afoul of Sweeney and South Jersey power broker George Norcross during last year’s budget battle when he appeared to favor Murphy’s positions.

“I feel confident that I will be state chairman in 2020 as long as Gov. Murphy wants me to be. And it’s always been a policy, if you will, in our state party that the governor chooses his state chair,” Currie said.

“I’m glad he’s confident. We’ll see how it all shakes out,” Jones said.

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