NJEA PAC endorses Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021 Democratic Primary

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the 125-member NJEA PAC Operating Committee voted overwhelmingly to endorse Gov. Phil Murphy in the 2021 Democratic Primary.

The committee, which met via Zoom, was acting upon the recommendation of the NJEA PAC Screening Committee. The governor, who is the only declared candidate in the Democratic primary, completed a questionnaire on NJEA’s issues and was interviewed by a panel of members and NJEA officers.

“Gov. Murphy has demonstrated time and time again that he keeps his promises,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “It is so vital to the success of our students and our members that we have a governor who listens to education experts and works with us to develop solutions that work for all of us. He has shown that, regardless of job description, he respects the contributions of every school employee, and he has signed legislation to ensure fairer working conditions.”

“We are at a tipping point in our society and the question is, who will lead our state to a future that works for everyone?” said NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller. “Gov. Murphy shares our commitment to social justice. He knows there is much work to be done and he is eager to work with us and other partners to diversify our workforce and our curriculum. That’s the kind of leadership we need in order to make long-lasting change that benefits everyone.”

“There is no governor in the nation who has worked as closely and collaboratively with public employee unions than Gov. Murphy,” said NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty. “Gov. Murphy is committed to putting New Jersey on a strong financial footing and he has done that by addressing inequality and exploitation of working families. He shares our vision of a New Jersey that respects and supports the people who make this state run and make our public schools the very best in the nation.”

The NJEA PAC cited Gov. Murphy’s strong record on the issues that matter most to NJEA members, their students, and their families. These include:

  • Ch. 78 relief, which reduced health care premium costs for members while saving the state millions of dollars;
  • Protecting educational support professionals whose jobs were at-risk due to COVID-19 school closings;
  • Working with NJEA to improve health and safety conditions and to hold districts accountable when they fall short;
  • Due process rights for educational support professionals;
  • Subcontracting protections for educational support professional positions;
  • Three of the largest consecutive pension payments in New Jersey history;
  • Education funding that supports the unique needs of school districts, even in a pandemic;
  • Making college more affordable through the Community College Opportunity Grant program;
  • Working to diversify the curriculum, including implementation of the Amistad curriculum;
  • Diversifying the workforce in our public schools and providing the funding to do so;
  • Appointing New Jersey educators to serve as Commissioner of Education;
  • Expanding Pre-K programs, a key indicator of lifelong success;
  • Signing legislation that pays workers equally, regardless of gender.

The NJEA PAC Operating Committee enthusiastically endorses Gov. Murphy’s re-nomination as the Democratic candidate in the 2021 primary due to his strong support for NJEA, our students, working families, public education, and organized labor.

Despite the challenges imposed by the global pandemic, NJEA PAC maintained their standards and practices for endorsements. The NJEA members and officers who interviewed Gov. Murphy for the endorsement screening were:

Marie Blistan, Chair

Sean Spiller

Steve Beatty

Ken Buck

Tina Dare

Mecheline Farhart

Sue Maurer

Christine Sampson Clark

Laurie Schorno

Kim Scott

Ryan Strothers

In accordance with Ch. 4 Section II, B of the NJEA PAC Guidelines, each county education association was invited to send observers to the screening meeting. The following observers attended:

Atlantic:  Barbara Rheault and Melissa Tomlinson   

Bergen: Debra Kwapniewski and Sue McBride

Burlington:  Christine Hewitt and Anthony Rizzo

Camden: Danielle Clark and Larry Zahn

Cape May:  Stacey Salerno and Walter Johnson                   

Cumberland:  Mildred Johnson and Temika Langston-Myers

Essex:  Jennifer Bailey and Anthony Rosamilia    

Gloucester:  Sue Clark and Ryan Griffin

Hudson:  Andrea Pastore and Roseanne Versaci  

Hunterdon:  Sue Vala and Carol Roche

Mercer:  Grace Rarich and Carl Romero               

Middlesex:  Christopher Finnegan and Lois Yukna

Monmouth:  Chris Collins and Denise King         

Morris:  Brian Adams and Bill Cole

Ocean:  Josh Eckersley and Sue Morgan

Passaic:  Sue Butterfield and Tara Temprano

Salem:  Colleen Gilmartin and Sue Maniglia

Somerset:  Theresa Fuller and Henry Goodhue

Sussex:  Sue Sawey and Vicki Smith

Union: Nancy Lucas-Miller and Lisa Palin

Warren:  Valerie Reynolds

Non-Classroom:  No observers attended

Higher Ed:  Peter Helff          

Pre-service:  Kim Cacciato and Emma Murphy

Retired:  Judy Perkins and Joan Wright

ESP: Angela Lawler and Carol Roche


The New Jersey Education Association represents more than 200,000 teachers, certificated staff, educational support professionals, and retired members. NJEA’s mission is to advance and protect the rights, benefits, and interests of members, and promote a quality system of public education for all students.