Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop announced this morning that he will run for governor, joining what is expected to be a crowded field of candidates hoping to replace the term-limited Phil Murphy.
Along with the announcement, the mayor released a three-minute video including testimonials from fellow Marines and Jersey City residents. “I believe leadership is standing up for what you believe in even when it’s not popular and then fighting successfully to get it done. Now I’m running for governor to bring that same energy and fight to Trenton” said Fulop.
Fulop became Jersey City mayor on July 1, 2013. He was re-elected twice. His current term ends on January 1, 2026.
Fulop first made a name for himself locally as president of the Historic Paulus Hook Association. Following 9-11, he enlisted in the Marines, a formative life experience he often cites in his campaign literature and speeches.
Fulop quickly caught the eye of the local political establishment and, backed by former Mayor Glenn Cunningham, ran unsuccessfully against then Congressman Bob Menendez in the June 2004 Democratic mayoral primary.
In 2005, Fulop was elected to represent Ward E on the Jersey City Municipal Council, defeating the incumbent, Junior Maldonado. Fulop positioned himself a reformer, often butting heads with Mayor Jerramiah Healy and his allies on the council on issues such as pay-to-play reform and the elimination of “double-dipping” by elected officials.
During his nine years as mayor, Fulop has overseen a building boom, begun in the late 90s, centered largely Downtown. More recently, Fulop has pushed for development elsewhere in the city including Journal Square and the “Hub” on Martin Luther King Drive.
The mayor has touted improvements to local transportation, which include the ride-sharing service Via and a network of bike lanes; improvements to the city’s credit rating; and plans for the Bayfront development which include a 35% affordable housing component. He has also expressed pride in his arts-related initiatives, including the Arts and Culture Trust Fund and plans for the Pompidou x museum.
Critics have pointed to Fulop’s closeness to real estate developers who have made large donations to his “SuperPac.” Under the mayor’s administration, critics charge that Jersey City has become unaffordable, pushing out long time residents.
The mayor has also been beset by a number of scandals, including a “bid rigging” attempt by his former chief of staff Muhammed Akil and by city employee Sean “Sully” Thomas and by the indictment and guilty plea of former advisor Tom Bertoli. Another close ally of the mayor, Sudhan Thomas, has been indicted in both federal and state court on bribery and embezzlement charges in connection with his work for the now defunct Jersey City Employment Training Program and as President of the the Jersey City Board of Education.
Fulop will likely face a formidable list of competitors for the Democratic nomination, including U.S. Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Josh Gottheimer; Newark Mayor Ras Baraka; Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver; former state senate president Steve Sweeney; and former state assemblyman John Wisniewski.