Gambling Ally Senator Ray Lesniak Announces Run For New Jersey Governor

Corey Goldberg Updated on January 10, 2017
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A longtime proponent of offline and online gambling in New Jersey, Senator Raymond Lesniak has announced that he will run for governor.

According to Politico New Jersey, Lesniak filed paperwork to run for office last Thursday with the New Jersey State Election Law Enforcement Commission. He later sent a short email to Monmouth Country Democrats to seek the party’s support at its convention on Jan. 22.

“The final decision for me was I could not hold myself back,” Lesniak said Thursday.

Earlier this month New Jersey braced itself for three major departures from the state Senate, including Lesniak, who has served for nearly four decades in the state legislature. Last month, he told Politico that he was thinking of retirement.

But with Lesniak’s announcement of his candidacy, the state may not be losing the 70-year-old senator’s leadership after all.

Lesniak’s pro-gambling track record in New Jersey

Without question, Lesniak is for the expansion of gambling within the Garden State:

  • He has a proven track record as a pro-gambling lawmaker and has expressed strong interest in turning the state into a global gambling hub.
  • He is a longtime champion of regulated online gambling and was the architect of the legislation that allowed for legal online gambling websites in New Jersey.
  • He has also been a longtime proponent of sports betting and is leading the push for legalized sports betting within NJ.

If elected governor, there is little doubt that Lesniak would continue in his efforts in regards to the New Jersey gaming industry.

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Lesniak’s chances of winning the election

Although political experts say Democrats are favored to retake the governor’s office after the end of Gov. Chris Christie’s current term, Lesniak is not the favorite to win the Democratic nomination.

Phil Murphy, the US ambassador to Germany, is currently the frontrunner for both the party’s nomination as well as the overall election.

Said Lesniak:

“He has a clear advantage, there’s no doubt about that. This is an uphill battle, but I believe I have the support of people and the recent election has shown that you can go directly to the people and get support if you have the right message.”

In addition to Murphy, several other candidates are also vying for the Democratic nomination, including Bill Brennan, Monica Brinson, Bob Hoatson, Jim Johnson, Lisa McCormick, Titus Pierce, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, and State Investment Council Chairman Tom Byrne.

With so many candidates in the pool, it’s far too early to accurately estimate Lesniak’s chances.

“The State of New Jersey needs fundamental reform and restructuring,” Lesniak said. “The state needs a fighter and I’m a fighter.”

Primaries will take place on June 6, with the gubernatorial election on Nov. 7.

Incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie is currently serving his second term in office and cannot run for a third consecutive term due to term limits.

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