Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32), also the chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, says he won’t need “smoke and mirrors” to maintain his pivotal post in the lower house next year.
“There’s a vote, not until November, I still, I am seeking it. I am not saying this is a done deal, absolutely not, it’s fair from over,” Prieto told Hudson County View after a press conference about the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program at New Jersey City University yesterday.
“I[‘ll] tell you that I feel confident I will have the majority of support to become the next speaker, I’ll be the current speaker until mid-January and I hopefully will be able to serve a third term.”
Prieto was dealt what appeared to be a hard blow on Monday, when Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones announced the Essex Assembly delegation would be endorsing Craig Coughlin (D-19), though the incumbent was quick to dig in his heels.
Prieto reiterated that sentiment face-to-face, calling the endorsement “smoke and mirrors” and that his top priority right now was getting Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy elected.
“I do not need smoke and mirrors at this point and time. We have an election. We need to elect a governor. We need to elect our [Democratic] majority, and we need to be grow that majority, so I’ve been focusing on the election,” Prieto exclaimed.
Back in April, Murphy endorsed Prieto for re-election in the Assembly, but has thus far stayed out of the battle for the speakership.
“That will be after the election. So I have not asked or put anybody in harm’s way, or put anybody in a precarious situation, of asking them ‘oh I need you to come out for me.’ That will work itself out. That, at this point in time, I call it smoke and mirrors, it’s all about giving perception, I tell you: I look forward to that vote in November.”
In the event that all of those names voted in favor of Coughlin, as well as the six members of the Essex Assembly delegation, he would have the support of 32 members of the 52-person Democratic majority.
However, Prieto remains steadfast that those names are anything but solid.