Long hailed as one of the most talented up and comers in New Jersey politics, the Monmouth County Democratic Chairman from Long Branch appears poised to run against state Senator Jen Beck (D-11) in 2017. Beck will be a very tough out, but Gopal is a unique politician now emboldened by the loses last night of Beck’s running mates Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande.
That would be a fun race to cover!
But now that the Democrats have made inroads into the Monmouth County legislative delegation, Gopal could have competition for the nomination.
Two potential competitors could be Assembly Members-elect Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey. Gopal is already speaking for Houghtaling and Downey as if he is political boss who controls legislators. Also from PolitickerNJ:
“I think we are in a very good spot in Monmouth County,” Gopal said. “We are in Central Jersey. We are not in North Jersey, we are not in South Jersey. We are going to agree with southern legislatures on specific issues, there are going to be issues where we agree with the northern legislatures. Our goal is to work with everybody and hope that we have a united party and elect a democratic governor in two years.”
According to Gopal, Downey and Houghtaling will “stay with the county” when making important voting decisions and when deciding which candidate to eventually support in the 2017 gubernatorial run.
“The county, together, at the time will decide,” said Gopal of the 2017 gubernatorial race. “We have a great relationship with all of the major potential candidates running. They have all been supportive and they have all been helpful. [Former Ambassador] Phil Murphy lives in Monmouth County, Steve Sweeney has been very supportive, Fulop has been very supportive. I don’t think anything is going to change.”
Gopal is trying to maintain independence in the New Jersey Democratic North vs South power divide while positioning himself as a pivotal player in the race for the 2017 race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. When they get to Trenton, the Monmouth County freshmen legislators will find themselves courted by competing power brokers with a lot more clout than Gopal.
Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider could decide that seven terms is enough leading and rebuilding the city. Schneider would not be a likely challenger to Beck, who he works well with, but he may relish the opportunity to thwart Gopal from moving up. A Schneider vs Gopal primary would be a classic.