Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) has received top billing for a Liberty House fundraiser planned for state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31) next month.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Sweeney, a likely Democratic primary adversary for Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop in the 2017 governor’s race, has recently been caught in the middle of a falling out between Fulop and Jersey City Freeholder Gerard Balmir (D-3).
Fulop shunned Balmir from the Hudson County Democratic Organization after his wife took a job with Sweeney’s office, a story that has gained widespread media attention.
Cunningham was succinct when asked why Sweeney was headlining her upcoming political soiree, set for November 10.
“I don’t think it’s unusual, he hosts fundraisers for a lot of people,” Cunningham told Hudson County View after joking around they they were just getting together “to raise money.”
Despite rumors swirling about what Cunningham, who was first elected to the state Senate in November 2007, will do in 2017, she debunked rumors that she is hoping to be Sweeney’s choice for lieutenant governor.
“We’ve had no discussions about that,” she said, adding that she hasn’t thought ahead to 2017 yet.
Cunningham can opt to seek re-election in the Senate, or can throw her hat in the ring for the Jersey City mayor’s race in 2017 – which could feature longtime Freeholder Bill O’Dea (D-2) and/or Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) as candidates.
Cunningham’s late husband, respected veteran Mayor Glenn Cunningham, was a mentor to Fulop who pushed him to run against then-Congressman. Bob Menendez in 2004. Glenn Cunningham passed about two weeks before the election took place.
While Fulop predictably got crushed at the polls, he was elected to Jersey City Council about one year later in an infamous off the line campaign that eventually helped him gain the mayor’s seat in 2013.
Fulop and Sandra Cunningham haven’t been on the best terms recently, as a new prisoner re-entry center was planned for a location in Ward F (which has since been cancelled), where many of Cunningham’s most loyal supporters reside.
Additionally, Fulop has been instrumental in trying to get the Jersey City Incinerator Authority abolished, an agency that has close ties to Cunningham.