While many political analysts feel that Assemblyman Vincent Prieto’s (D-32) time as Speaker is coming to an end, the Secaucus native told us “I feel confident that I will prevail.”
“Well, as we’ve seen, this is way early and I normally, we wouldn’t come out this early: the only reason I did is people were saying I was not seeking another term so I had to put that out on the record,” said Prieto, who announced he’d be seeking a third term two weeks ago.
“But again … the Assemblyman [Crag Coughlin D-19] came out with a list of 28 names. When I came out, a few weeks before the first time I was running, with a list of 41 names – and that’s the amount you need to win.”
Prieto added that he feels he’s “in a good place” and knows where his support lies in the state Assembly, reiterating that Coughlin’s list of supporters could become null and void depending on the results of November 7 general election.
“I feel good that I’ve done a good job with a progressive agenda, fighting for the hard-working people of the State of New Jersey, whether its minimum wage … health benefits and the pension – to make sure we take care of all the people in the State of New Jersey and those are the values I think people will look at.”
When asked how he felt about Coughlin’s candidacy potentially being fueled by state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and South Jersey power broker George Norcross III, the Cuban-born politician said that won’t change his approach one way or the other.
“Listen, at the end of the day, I’ve actually run for Speaker twice, I’ve been successful. I can’t let those things bother me. I think at the end of the day, my members understand that I brought the Assembly back into a place where we became relevant in the conversation,” he explained.
“Sometimes, I heard one of my people criticizing that ‘you’re digging your heels in.’ Sometimes you have to dig your heels in when you believe in it and you’re doing the right thing for the residents of New Jersey.”
The best example of Prieto digging in his heels recently is when he took control of the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee’s finances last week, prompting Michael Muller, the executive director of the DACC for 15 years, to resign (h/t InsiderNJ).
Prieto concluded by stating that “I feel confident that I will prevail” after his Assembly colleagues sit down and make a decision.
Prieto is seeking re-election in the Assembly this year, where he has the support of Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Phil Murphy, but does not face a serious challenge from either party.