Nineteen 9th district mayors endorse Pascrell for re-election

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) unveiled endorsements today from 19 Democratic mayors across the 9th congressional district, a major show of support ahead of his primary fight against Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah.

The endorsement list covers the mayors of Cliffside Park, East Rutherford, Edgewater, Fairview, Garfield, Haledon, Kearny, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Maywood, Moonachie, Passaic, Ridgefield, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Secaucus, South Hackensack, and Wood-Ridge.

“Bill is a former mayor and appreciates what our neighbors need to succeed,” Passaic City Mayor Hector Lora said in a statement. “We know that when we want help, Congressman Pascrell always comes through for our cities and towns. Bill is the model of a great elected official who has never, ever forgotten where he came from. Congressman Pascrell is always fighting for us and I will be there for him.”

The cascade of endorsers covers every Democratic mayor in the 9th district save for two: Khairullah himself and Paterson Mayor André Sayegh.

Sayegh, who has led the 9th district’s largest city (and Pascrell’s hometown) since 2018, considered a primary campaign of his own against the 87-year-old Pascrell this year but ultimately decided against it. Another potential Pascrell challenger, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-North Haledon), also opted against a campaign.

With both of those more prominent politicians declining to enter the race, Khairullah instead took up the mantle, and his campaign has focused heavily on a single issue: the war in Gaza. The 9th district is home to a large Palestinian and Muslim community, a community which has grown vocally frustrated with Pascrell’s stance on the war.

Khairullah himself is a Muslim and an immigrant from Syria, and has become something of an avatar for local leaders’ anger with Pascrell. (Sayegh, too, hails from Passaic County’s Arab American community and has vociferously called for a ceasefire in Gaza.)

But Khairullah’s campaign will likely not be a winning one. Pascrell has the backing of all three county parties in the 9th district; even without county organizational lines in this year’s Democratic primary, the relationships Pascrell has built up during his three-and-a-half decades in office should be more than enough to secure renomination.

Article originally appeared in the New Jersey Globe.