Denise Ridley withdraws from LD-31 Assembly race, cites issues with Fulop

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District 31 Assembly candidate Denise Ridley, who received the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization at a March 6 press conference, has formally announced her withdrawal from the election, stating that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop no longer supports her candidacy. 

Denise Ridley, far right, at a March 6 press conference where she was endorsed by the HCDO.
Denise Ridley, far right, at a March 6 press conference where she was endorsed by the HCDO.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

In a letter sent to Hudson County View, Ridley essentially confirmed rumors that she would no longer be running due to a power struggle between Fulop and State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-31), though she did not initially mention Cunningham by name.

“Before any rumors were leaked to the press, I spoke with Mayor Fulop and he explained his issues. I respect his decision to withdraw his support based on an agreement he had with someone other than me,” she wrote.

“I do not take that personally nor do I harbor any ill feelings towards the Mayor. Please understand this one thing, Mayor Steven Fulop is not the chairman of the HCDO.”

She goes on to state that the HCDO never planned on pulling their support from her candidacy and thanked Chairman Vincent Prieto and Cunningham for their efforts on her behalf.

“At no time did the HCDO withdraw my candidacy as their choice for the Assembly seat in the 31st District. With that being said, I would like to thank Chairman Vincent Prieto and the HCDO for the opportunity to run on the HCDO line in this election,” Ridley explained.

“I would also like to thank Senator Sandra Cunningham for initiating this opportunity and taking the time to make sure things were done properly.”

Sources told Hudson County View yesterday that Ridley, viewed as a compromise pick between Fulop and Cunningham, was on the outs after incumbent Charles Mainor was out collecting signatures on his petitions for nomination. Ridley is a former aide to Mainor.

As only Hudson County View has reported, Jersey City Police Det. Dejon Morris is planning an Assembly run in the 31st District, so he could be a suitable replacement for Ridley.

District 31 has been as unpredictable as anyone could imagine, as Pat O’Brien, announced as Jersey City businessman Bruce Alston’s running mate on Wednesday, withdrew his candidacy yesterday and then endorsed the HCDO candidate in Bayonne: Nicholas Chiaravalloti.

Fulop did not immediately return a call seeking comment, while Cunningham could not be reached for comment.

Here is the full transcript of Ridley’s letter:

Dear Voters of the 31st Legislative District,

There are a few things that I would like you to know…

First and most importantly, I would like to thank the supporters of my campaign for the Assembly seat.  Your confidence and trust in me encourages me daily and is a constant reminder of the needs within our district.  The residents and their needs are and should always be the focus.

I made the decision to run in this election for three reasons.  There was no one running that I would vote for, no one was going to outwork me, and I knew that I would do right by the residents of the 31st District.  Disagreements occur between our elected officials.  It is disheartening that these disagreements, at times, negatively impact the residents.  I urge our elected officials to remain focused on the needs of the district.

When two people make an agreement and one party feels the other is not holding up their end, there may be a need to step back from the agreement.  Before any rumors were leaked to the press, I spoke with Mayor Fulop and he explained his issues.  I respect his decision to withdraw his support based on an agreement he had with someone other than me.  I do not take that personally nor do I harbor any ill feelings towards the Mayor.  Please understand this one thing, Mayor Steven Fulop is not the chairman of the HCDO.

At no time did the HCDO withdraw my candidacy as their choice for the Assembly seat in the 31st District.  With that being said, I would like to thank Chairman Vincent Prieto and the HCDO for the opportunity to run on the HCDO line in this election.  I would also like to thank Senator Sandra Cunningham for initiating this opportunity and taking the time to make sure things were done properly.

My name and time is too valuable and my family, friends, and supporters mean too much to me for me to sit back and wait for this situation to play itself out.  I do not wish to sit idly by as our elected officials sort out issues that have nothing to do with who is the best candidate for the 31st District.

Effective immediately, I am withdrawing my name as the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s candidate for Assembly in the 31st District.

Again, thank you to my supporters and I will continue to work with and for the people of our community whether in an elected seat or not.

Regards,

Denise Ridley