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Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, declares candidacy for governor of New Jersey

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Former state Senate president, Stephen Sweeney, announced his run for New Jersey governor after losing his seat to a Trump-supporting truck driver in 2021. Sweeney, the longest-serving state Senate president in New Jersey history, was part of the South Jersey Democratic Party machine and served 12 years as president. Despite being a seasoned political figure, his support for a pension cut and health benefits reduction for public employees, as well as clashes with Democrat Phil Murphy over taxes, may not win him the backing of progressive Democrats.

Sweeney began his political career fighting for people with disabilities and has served in various political roles, including as an ironworker, union leader, and Gloucester County Commission member. His alliance with party boss George Norcross and his experience in the Legislature gives him a solid understanding of the state’s issues, according to Ben Dworkin of Rowan University. However, his base of support is in South Jersey, which may pose a challenge in a statewide race.

With current Governor Murphy serving his second term and unable to serve a third consecutive term, Sweeney has declared his candidacy alongside Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. Congress members Mikie Sherrill and Josh Gottheimer are also expected to run, along with Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who came close to defeating Murphy in their 2021 matchup. A key aspect of New Jersey elections is county politics, with Democratic candidates competing for endorsements from county party organizations.

If Sweeney and Fulop, along with Sherrill and Gottheimer, make it to the 2025 gubernatorial primary election, they will represent four of the five counties with the largest Democratic voter base. Sweeney and Fulop entered the race early to vie for those endorsements, which played a critical role in deciding the 2017 gubernatorial election. The primary election may still be 18 months away, but it seems that it will be a competitive and significant race for New Jersey.

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Photo credit gothamist.com

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