Fulop quits gubernatorial race, endorses Murphy

He spent years rallying support for a run as New Jersey governor, but this afternoon Mayor Steve Fulop announced that he would not be seeking the Democratic nomination in 2017.

 

During a 2 p.m. news conference outside City Hall, Fulop threw his support behind ex-Goldman Sachs executive and former U.S. ambassador Phil Murphy, who announced his gubernatorial run in May.

“Hopefully today is a meaningful step forward in the state of New Jersey and also in Jersey City,” Fulop says.

It’s an incredible development having Fulop back out of what is expected to be a crowded governor’s race and many of the mayor’s closest allies knew nothing about his decision.

The news comes as Fulop gets ready to testify in the Bridgegate trial. Allegedly, Fulop was among the Democratic mayors targeted after he declined to endorse Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election bid, prosecutors say.

Text messages and emails were entered into evidence as the government questioned star witness, David Wildstein.

The former Port Authority Christie appointee pleaded guilty to several conspiracy charges in connection with the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

Texts from August 2013 show Wildstein discussing retaliating against Fulop.

This is a real blow to Hudson County Democrats, who were hoping to have a friend in Trenton in 2018.

The 2017 Jersey City mayoral and City Council races could be transformed as well, with Fulop allies who planned on running having to reconsider if Fulop wants re-election.

It’s good news for Murphy, however.

The executive and Fulop have been after the same North Jersey power brokers and liberal voters for support.

Fulop, 39, became mayor in 2013 after two terms as a councilman.

Soon after, people tossed around his name as a possible gubernatorial candidate.

Critics have long complained that Fulop’s focus has been on that gubernatorial bid rather than on being mayor.

He hosted Democratic barbecues in Paramus and Freehold the past two Saturdays to connect with voters.

“That he didn’t even make it to the starting line is kind of a shock,” Matthew Hale, who teaches political science at Seton Hall University told The Jersey Journal.

At one time, Hale says Fulop’s background and personality seemed to give him a lock on the nomination.

That prompted a response from Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), also believed to be mulling a 2017 gubernatorial run:

“Only those who don’t know what’s going on in NJ politics thought Fulop had a lock on the nomination.”

When asked by Hudson TV, State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto added, “The mayor had never declared, there were a lot of assumptions that he’d be running.

“I’m chairman of the party and (as recently as a week ago) there was no candidate. The only declared candidate at this time is Phil Murphy.”

About The Author

Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis

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