Analysis of New Jersey’s 2021 Election
Governor Murphy won re-election in a closer-than-expected victory and most legislators will return victorious to the Legislature for the 220th legislative session, which will begin on January 11, 2022. In the new session, the Assembly will continue to be led by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, but the Senate will have new leadership. The major upset in this election was the defeat of Democrat Senate President Sweeney (representing Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties), whose loss to a Republican newcomer resulted in the Senate President seat shifting to Democrat Senator Nick Scutari of Union County. NJ CAR will work to ensure the new Senate leadership team are educated about the issues that most important to New Jersey’s neighborhood new car and truck dealerships.
Based on the past four years, we believe this Governor’s Office does not fully appreciate the benefits of our industry and we are concerned that the next four years will present much of the same. During the Governor’s initial response to COVID, he shut down our industry. Mobilizing local and legislative support, we were able to reverse the Governor’s ill-conceived closure. Our ability to have that decision reversed is a testament to the strength of our grassroots efforts. We will need to continue working together to protect the industry’s interests.
The defeat of Senate President Sweeney presents a sizeable risk to our industry. In New Jersey, the Senate President role is widely accepted as being second only to the Governor in influence. Like other businesses throughout the State, NJ CAR was able to rely upon the Senate President to help flag legislation that could hurt us, and to help us identify vulnerabilities. The loss of the benefit of his experience, balanced vision and level-headed presence in the Senate is sizeable.
The re-election of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin is a significant positive result of the election. He continues to be a friend of NJ CAR members. But we cannot take anything for granted and need to continue building upon the positive relationships developed over the years in the Assembly.
The election results indicate that the 220th legislative session may be a busy one for our NJ CARPOOL members. Emboldened by a second term, this Administration and Legislature will need to be reminded that NJ CAR’s franchised neighborhood new car and truck dealerships drive the Garden State retail economy. With a network of 500+ franchised retailers providing consumers with vigorous price competition and ready access to warranty and recall service, our industry deserves to be counted.