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After a decade of the New Jersey Education Association leaders and South Jersey king-maker George Norcross engaging in armed combat, the two erstwhile arch-enemies have found their mutual sweet spot. According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, a new group called American Democratic Majority just got a donation of $1.25 million from Garden State Forward, NJEA’s super PAC.
The group, which bills itself as the “#1 Democratic and progressive choice,” has endorsed Gov. Phil Murphy.
Matt Friedman of Politico (sadly, behind a paywall) recounts how Norcross and NJEA spent many years in a turf war, which culminated when NJEA’s PAC went after Senate President Steve Sweeney’s seat and spent $5 million in member dues on Sweeney’s opponent, a Trump-loving, climate change-denying, xenophobic, little-known councilman named Fran Grenier. (See full backstory here.) That ended poorly for NJEA — Sweeney won, Norcross continued to accrue power, and teachers were mad at their leaders’ poor judgement—but union executives and the South Jersey kingpin cut a deal last year to reduce costs for teacher health insurance.
The Norcross-NJEA alliance is also further confirmation of an easing of tensions between Norcross and Gov. Phil Murphy, one of NJEA’s closest allies. Garden State Forward has donated millions to New Direction New Jersey, a nonprofit run by Murphy allies that has promoted the governor’s agenda. The new group’s ad boosting Johnson touts Murphy’s endorsement of him.
Murphy fought with Norcross and his political allies for much of his first term, with the governor even appointing a commission that dug up dirt on the use of tax incentives by companies affiliated with Norcross. The two recently entered into a political detente, however, while state pressure against Norcross-related companies has eased.