HCDO backing McKnight for state Senate in LD-31, JCDO Chair Stamato to run for Assembly


The Hudson County Democratic Organization is backing Assemblywoman Angela McKnight to succeed Sandra Cunningham as the state senator of the 31st Legislative District, with Jersey City Democratic Organization Chair Barbara Stamato.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Senator Cunningham has been a strong advocate for the 31st District and an inspirational leader for Hudson County, and as chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization I wholeheartedly thank her for her service,” HCDO Chair Anthony Vainieri said in a statement.

“I’m excited to support this new team of legislators who will work alongside the rest of our delegation to fight for the people of Hudson County and the values we believe in.”

Cunningham, first elected in 2007, has been dealing with unspecified cognitive health issues, leading to a roughly two-month hospitalization at the end of 2022.

While her retirement was all but guaranteed for months, the local Democratic party had trouble reaching a consensus on her replacement, with their endorsements in LD-32 and LD-33 made in the first week of January.

They ended up going with McKnight, an assemblywoman first elected in 2015 who was in the mix from Day 1. She also runs the local non-profit AngelaCARES and is the chair of the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee.

She will face an off the line challenge from Michael Griffin, who announced last month and formally kicked off his campaign on Friday.

He was the chair of Jersey City Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore’s campaign in November 2021, who unseated Councilman Jermaine Robinson – the same candidate who defeated Griffin in a six-way contest in 2017.

McKnight and Stamato, who is also the vice chair of the HCDO and an aide to Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh, did not immediately return calls seeking comment, but the mayors of LD-31 made their support clear, including for incumbent William Sampson.

“I’m proud to support this new legislative team for the 31st District that includes one of the state’s most dynamic, community-focused leaders in Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, a devoted public servant in Barbara Stamato and a respected labor leader in Assemblyman Will Sampson,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

He also touted the diversity of Jersey City’s legislative candidates, which includes Assemblyman Raj Mukherji for state Senate, running alongside Jessica Ramirez and John Allen in the 32nd Legislative District.

“Senator Cunningham has been a champion for Bayonne and the entire 31st District, and while we are sad to see her retire from office I am certain that our city will continue to be in good hands with Assemblywoman McKnight, Chairwoman Stamato and our own Assemblyman Will Sampson,” added Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis.

“With redistricting placing Kearny into the 31st District for the first time, it was very important to me to know that our community will continue to be represented in Trenton by thoughtful, dedicated public servants who will advocate for our needs,” noted Kearny Mayor Al Santos.

The Democratic primary election is on June 6th.

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