by Sophie Nieto-Munoz, New Jersey Monitor
This story was originally published on April 11, 2023 by New Jersey Monitor

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced Tuesday he’s running for governor in 2025, becoming the first candidate in what is expected to be a crowded field to replace a term-limited Gov. Phil Murphy.

Fulop, a Democrat who became mayor of the state’s second-largest city in 2013, said in an announcement video that his career has “always been guided by a strong desire to take on difficult challenges” and now wants to “bring those same values to Trenton.”

“I will be sharing my vision over the coming months for how we will make it happen,” he said. “I’ve never backed down from a fight before, and I’m ready to work hard for all the people of our great state to deliver the results New Jersey deserves.”

YouTube video

YouTube video

In the video, Fulop, 46, highlights his service in the U.S. Marine Corps after leaving his finance job following the 9/11 attacks. The 3-minute clip includes shots of the Twin Towers falling and interviews with veterans the mayor served with in Iraq. Fulop also touts policies he pushed for as mayor of Jersey City, like a $15 minimum wage for city workers.

Fulop explored a 2017 gubernatorial bid but never mounted an official campaign.

Coming out of the gate early this time around is no accident, said Dan Cassino, a government and politics professor at Farleigh Dickinson University and director of the school’s poll. Fulop needs to differentiate himself from his fellow Democrats, and with a January FDU poll showing he has low name recognition, he needs to gain attention from the public — and from party bosses whose support is key in the primary process, Cassino said.

Cassino said the 2025 race will be a test for the progressive wing that has become the “public-facing side” of the Democratic Party in New Jersey.

“The Democratic Party is in the middle of a low-scale civil war between party bosses, party institutions, and the progressive wing of the party. It’s still a very open question, but who’s going to win that fight?” Cassino added.

While Fulop may be the first to announce his candidacy for governor — 25 months out from the primary election — he certainly won’t be the last, Cassino said. Other potential Democratic candidates include Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, former state Sen. Steve Sweeney, and Rep. Mikie Sherrill, plus Republicans Jack Ciatterelli, state Sen. Jon Bramnick, and radio personality Bill Spadea.

“We’re still pretty early. There are a lot of candidates reaching out to donors, reaching out to party bosses, filling things out to see if there’s support,” Cassino said. “Nobody wants to embarrass themselves by getting in and out real quickly — pulling a Bloomberg.”

New Jersey Monitor is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Jersey Monitor maintains editorial independence.

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