A record 1,500 attendees came out to the New Jersey State Democratic Committee’s 2018 two-day convention in Atlantic City, according to Chairman John Currie.
And those are registered Democrats, according to a spokesperson for Gov. Phil Murphy. That figure could balloon to at least 2,000 if including nonregistered Democrats, the spokesperson said.
The convention, which concludes Friday evening at Harrah’s Resort & Casino, comes less than two months before the midterm elections and what the Democrats hope will be a “blue wave” in Congress.
“[Congressional candidates] Mikie Sherrill and Tom Malinowski and Andy Kim and Josh Welle and Jeff Van Drew will all win on Nov. 6,” Murphy said. “We will re-elect Sen. Bob Menendez and the rest of our great Democratic delegation.”
Menendez currently is being challenged by Republican Bob Hugin, the former Celgene Corp. executive chairman. Menendez held a narrow six-point lead in an August poll conducted by Quinnipiac University.
On Friday, Murphy touted his administration’s push for access to in-state tuition aid for undocumented youth, known as “dreamers”; access to expanded pre-K; free community college for state residents; the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program; the development of offshore wind energy; and a raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Notably absent were much of the state Legislature’s leadership, including Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, who said they would not attend Thursday night’s opening reception with Murphy and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenland, D-6th District, was absent as well, as was Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-37th District.
Weinberg, in a Blue Jersey op-ed, said she would not attend because the convention was announced with not enough notice and that she would instead be attending local fundraisers and campaign events.
Sweeney’s move comes just over two months after a statehouse dogfight over the budget, during which Currie and the state Democratic Party backed Murphy.
But at the New Jersey State Democratic Committee meeting Friday morning, Murphy disputed notions of a rift in the Democratic Party.
“Don’t believe 95 percent of it, maybe 99 percent of it,” Murphy said. “This is a party that’s fired up, it’s passionate. It’s overwhelmingly on most topics quite united.”