UNION COUNTY — Acting Union County Sheriff Joe Cryan said he is hoping the Democratic party will back him in the November election for sheriff, but according to one insider, the party has not committed to anyone at this point.
Cryan, who has been acting sheriff since the July 20 death of Ralph Froehlich and also is an assemblyman, might have to wait awhile before he knows whether he is favored by his party or not.
According to insiders, the decision may have more to do with who they want in the assembly position.
Cryan, besides being a member of the state assembly, is a former Democratic Party state chairman and has been an undersheriff for many years. If he wants to run for the sheriff spot and wins, though, he will have to bid goodbye to the assemblyman role because the state changed the law allowing any official to hold more than one elected position.
Should Cryan get the nod for sheriff and be elected in November, according to Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, he would serve a new three-year term instead of completing Froehlich’s term that is up in 2016.
However, the real debate is going to be who will succeed Cryan if he becomes sheriff and gives up his assembly seat.
According to multiple sources, several names have been floating around in political circles, but the top contender is Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley.
Holley, who is well respected in the Democratic party, is considered to be the one person who can do justice to the seat.
Political insiders that LocalSource spoke with maintained the Roselle mayor not only has the political chutzpah to handle the job but has the backing of Elizabeth’s Mayor Chris Bollwage, who pulls a lot of weight politically.
The Elizabeth mayor also is aligned tightly with State Sen. Ray Lesniak, who has said publicly that he will support Holley.
Holley also is strongly favored by Assemblyman Jerry Green, who is Union County Democratic chairman.
The fact that Elizabeth and Roselle power brokers are behind Holley will make it very difficult for other potential candidates to throw their hat in the ring, said one party member who said they were backing the Roselle mayor.
Holley also has said publicly he was “absolutely” interested in the assembly seat, which party insiders say is where he should be setting his sights at this point in his political career.
Adding some mystery is that when it comes time for the Democratic committee to decide who their assembly candidate will be, it will be done by secret ballot. One political insider with more than 30 years in the party pointed out that there are about 140 votes coming from Elizabeth, 90 from Union, 39 from Roselle and 26 from Hillside.
Sept. 10 is the deadline for political parties to file a letter of selection for a sheriff’s candidate.