After a week of speculation, Mayor James Davis has announced William B. Sampson IV will be the new candidate for state Assembly for the 31st Legislative District which includes Bayonne.
Hudson County political tradition holds that the mayors of cities or towns in the legislative district have the power to choose state assembly and state senate nominations.
On Feb. 26, Davis told incumbent Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti and the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) about his decision to no longer support Chiaravalloti for the Assembly seat.
It is still not clear why Davis decided to drop Chiaravalloti ahead of the June primary. Chiaravalloti was seen as a longtime political ally of Davis until recently.
Representatives of both Governor Phil Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin reached out to Davis, encouraging him to keep Chiaravalloti, but to no avail. After the announcement that Sampson will be the new candidate, Murphy declined to intervene any further than he already has in the Davis-Chiaravalloti split: “No comment on the Hudson County decision other than … I’m a big fan of both of them. And we’ve worked really well with both. And I’ve got nothing new in terms of where that settles, but two outstanding public servants, two outstanding electeds.”
Meet the new guy
Sampson, who graduated from Bayonne High School in 2007, is a crane operator for Global Container Terminal in Bayonne. He is also a member of the International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1588, where he is a political liaison and holds several board committee positions.
“I am very happy and extremely privileged to introduce William B. Sampson IV as our candidate for State Assembly in this year’s election, and I am looking forward to campaigning with Will and working with him to make both Bayonne and Hudson County the best they can be,” Mayor Davis said. “Will is someone who will bring a new energy, vitality, and perspective to the State Assembly, and he is well-equipped to serve as a 21st Century leader for Bayonne and the entire 31st District.”
If Sampson wins the seat, he will be the first Black legislator to represent Bayonne in the state Assembly.
What’s next for Nick?
A spokesperson for Chiaravalloti said the Assemblyman does not have any comment at this time. It is not clear if Chiaravalloti will still run in the upcoming election now that he is off the line. In 2007, he ran off the line but lost.
First nominated by Davis in 2015 after his election to mayor in 2014, Chiaravalloti would be seeking his fourth term. Chiaravalloti ran for the seat after Davis similarly used his power not to endorse the incumbent Assemblyman at the time, Jason O’Donnell.
Chiaravalloti currently serves as Majority Whip in the Assembly, responsible for securing party votes for legislation. He was poised to run unopposed.
While Chiaravalloti has been silent on the issue, he has more than $44,000 in the bank for his re-election campaign, according to state filings from late January, and a virtual fundraiser scheduled for tonight.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.