EAST ORANGE, NJ — At East Orange Mayor Ted Green’s second annual State of the City Address took place on Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Cicely Tyson School of the Performing and Fine Arts Theater, Green spoke of his support for East Orange and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones’ possible bid to become chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
“To my good friend and — I always say my partner — none other than our chairman, Leroy J. Jones Jr.,” said Green on Thursday, Feb. 21. “And I have to say this loud and clear. To the next state chairman of this state of New Jersey, Leroy Jones.”
Green then acknowledged Jones’ wife, Jackie as “the real chairman.”
“I have to say this publicly — Jackie, I just want to thank you, because when people talk about putting East Orange first, you never let anything go by ever, without letting me know that something’s not right in East Orange or not going right in East Orange or people are not getting our fair share or piece of the rock here in East Orange,” Green said.
Although Jones is the chairman of both the East Orange Democratic Committee and Essex County Democratic Committee, 71-year-old John Currie, the current chairman of the Passaic County Democratic Party, chairs the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. Jones would have to unseat Currie in the primary on Tuesday, June 4, to obtain the statewide position.
But Jones said Green’s announcement Tuesday, Feb. 21, was news to him, even though he has been hearing rumors of a growing movement to draft him to run against Currie. If Jones did win, he would remain the chairman of the EODC and ECDC.
Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss said, with all due respect to Currie, that sounds pretty good to him.
“I was at several locations where people mentioned that,” said Vauss on Saturday, Feb. 23. “I know there were conversations about Leroy Jones being state chairman before. I support Chairman Leroy Jones 100 percent.”
Vauss also acknowledged that rumor and speculation are not established fact, especially when it comes to politics so, until Jones actually announces his candidacy, it’s all just talk.
“I’m always cautious with getting out ahead of people,” said Vauss on Tuesday, Feb. 26. “But it’s just the nature of how the business is and people passing the baton. Me, I’m more cautious. I’m waiting to see if Chairman Jones does run. If he does, I support him 100 percent.”
“I’m not an official candidate,” said Jones on Saturday, Feb. 23. “I’m humbled that folks feel I should be considered in that way. We’ll just let things develop and see how they go that way.”
Attempts to contact Currie were unsuccessful by press time this week. According to the NJDSC official website, Currie was unanimously elected chairman of the NJDSC in June 2013, and previously served on the committee as deputy vice-chairman since 1995.
Currie has also served as the Democratic chairman of the Passaic County Democratic Organization for 27 years. He currently co-chairs the Democratic National Committee Credentials Committee and is only the second African-American man to have the position of county chairman in the state, and the first in Passaic County. He currently serves as a commissioner on the Board of Elections, having been appointed by former Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman in 1998.
According to the NJDSC website, “Under Chairman Currie’s leadership, Passaic County attained a Democratic majority among constitutional officers and a 7-0 Democratic freeholder board. Mr. Currie also led the campaign to elect the first Democratic sheriff in 50 years in 2001.
In addition, under his leadership, state “Democrats have maintained control of both houses of the state Legislature under a Republican governor. He also helped elect the state’s first African-American U.S. senator to a full term, Sen. Cory Booker, and the state’s first African-American woman elected to Congress, 12th District Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. In 2017, Currie helped elect Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver as governor and lieutenant governor.”