Michael Griffin gearing up for Senate run in LD-31 with Cunningham retirement expected


Michael Griffin, who successfully managed Jersey City Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore’s campaign in November 2021, is gearing up for a Senate run in the 31st Legislative District with incumbent Sandra Cunningham expected to retire.

31st Legislative District Senate candidate Michael Griffin. Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Griffin came in a distance second to then-Councilman Jermaine Robinson in the 2017 Ward F council election in a six-person race, but got redemption in 2021 when Gilmore soundly defeated Robinson.

Gilmore will be returning the favor by being the chairman of Griffin’s campaign, according to a D-1 filing with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) yesterday.

“For years, our democratic organization, in my opinion hasn’t fought for issues that concern, not just me, but many of my neighbors like people in Bayonne, people in Kearny. Issues we all talk about at our kitchen tables,” Griffin said in a phone interview with HCV.

“Just becoming and building myself up to be the leader for my community to stand in front of them, protect them, to make sure their issues aren’t only heard but advocating for them as well.”

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

This led to speculation she would leave office early, though that looks unlikely at the moment.

While the Hudson County Democratic Organization announced their endorsements for the 32nd and 33rd Legislative Districts, respectively – along with county executive – last month, they’ve held off on LD-31 for the time being.

Potential candidates include County Commissioner Bill O’Dea (D-2) and Jerry Walker (D-3), though O’Dea has recently picked up petitions to seek re-election, along with Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), Council President Joyce Watterman, and Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley.

The filing deadline for the June 6th primary is March 27th at 4 p.m. and legislative candidates need just 100 valid signatures to make the ballot.

Griffin added that he has a great respect and admiration for the Cunningham family and that he wouldn’t have even considered running if the incumbent was able to give it another go.

“I have a great respect and admiration for Senator Cunningham, she has been a leader in our community even before she married the late, grate Senator and Mayor Glenn Cunningham,” he explained.

“If she was still here and in action, there wouldn’t be a conversation on this. But if leadership is going to change hands, there should be a challenge to the HCDO who understands the community and knows what it takes to move things forward.”

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