The 2017 election is destined to be one of the most consequential in New Jersey history.
In 2017 we will have a new governor, possibly a new state senator in District 2, one or two new assemblymen, a new sheriff in both Atlantic and Cape May counties and at least one new freeholder.
I can't remember this much potential change all happening in one election.
Gov. Chris Christie will have served two terms and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third consecutive term. At this time, businessman Phil Murphy has basically locked up the Democratic nomination.
Never before has someone so thoroughly cleared the field in the manner that Murphy has. For years, the political intelligentsia believed that Senate President Steve Sweeney or Jersey City Mayor Steve Fullop would be the nominee.
Murphy vanquished both men without firing a single political shot. He's sitting pretty and will hardly need to spend a dime during the primary season.
As usual, multiple Republicans will no doubt politically carve each other up, while spending a small fortune to win the nomination. Presently, the Republican field is as follows:
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is not a declared candidate, but she will be running. A digital and social media effort titled "Run Kim Run" is getting a lot of buzz.
Guadagno is one of the most decent people that I've ever known in politics. She's very likeable. Never sell her short. She's more formidable than many people realize at this time.
New Jersey Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli of Somerset is aggressively running. I have interviewed him in-studio. He is also a very engaging and likeable person.
Ciattarelli is well organized and he has expanded his political team. Rick Rosenberg, Jr. has been hired as campaign manager, Brittany Wheeler as his political director and Erin Ehrich as finance director. The very successful Chris Russell will serve as campaign consultant.
I've saved the most interesting wild card for last. My good friend, the iconic television personality and now New York City radio talk show host Joe Piscopo is seriously considering a bid for governor.
Piscopo is not doing this on some whim. I announced early in 2016 that Piscopo was seriously considering a run. This is significant because it predates the successful Donald Trump phenomena.
A Piscopo run would be modeled after Trump's winning formula. The celebrity outsider who will fix important social programs for minority residents, coupled with draining the political swamp of the institutionally broken bureaucracy that has made New Jersey unaffordable for so many.
Piscopo is not looking to run as a Trump copycat. He has long held these stated positions. At this time, Piscopo is looking to run in the Republican Primary, however, he is leaving his options open to potentially run as an independent candidate.
The state Senate seat in Atlantic County's District 2 should be very interesting. Sen. Jim Whelan, Democrat, may retire, or he may run again. Assemblyman Chris Brown, Republican, may run for senator, or he may run for re-election to the Assembly.
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-2nd, may run for the Senate seat, or he may run for re-election to the Assembly. This high drama and political intrigue will continue until Whelan makes his decision.
There is not much intrigue in District 1. Sen. Jeff Van Drew is a winning machine. He runs as a Democrat in what clearly should be a Republican stronghold and he just keeps winning and winning big. In 2013, Van Drew defeated Susan Addizzi Schmidt by a margin of 60-39 percent.
Van Drew's relentless and unapologetic support of both Atlantic and Cape May counties is incomparable. Van Drew will again be running with Assemblymen Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land.
This popular Democratic slate goes into the critical 2017 election cycle as prohibitive favorites for re-election.
Longtime (three terms) Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles has decided to call it quits, so there will be a new sheriff in town. I have always wanted to say that. It's now literally true.
The current Chief Sheriff's Officer Steve Caldwell (who Balles has formally endorsed) and Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser are the top two candidates for the Republican nomination at this time. Former Sheriff's Officer Joe O'Donaghue may also run.
There is no credible word about potential Democratic candidates for Atlantic County sheriff at the moment.
However, Balles' electoral career may not be over as he is currently weighing a bid for freeholder at large. Freeholder Alex Marino is not running for re-election.
In Cape May County, three-term Sheriff Gary Schaffer will also not be seeking re-election. Schaffer will conclude a distinguished 45-year career in law enforcement.
Cape May County Undersheriff Bob Nolan has confirmed that he is running for the position and enters the election season as the prohibitive favorite. Nolan has served in the Sheriff's Department since 1984. Outgoing Sheriff Schaffer will be supporting Nolan's bid.
We will provide you with a ringside seat to an action-packed 2017 election season, which begins right now.