Eric Hyers, who ran Congressman David Cicilline's winning campaigns for Congress in 2010 and 2012, is now leading the defense for a New Jersey legislative leader facing a sharp primary challenge.
Hyers is managing the campaign for Nia Gill (D-Montclair), an 11-year incumbent who serves as president pro tempore of the New Jersey Senate. The Star-Ledger of Newark characterizes the race between Gill and challenger Mark Alexander as fierce:
The Democratic establishment is leaning toward Gill, who has worked her way up the political ladder in Essex County. But there are some hurdles as well. Alexander, who was a top aide to President Barack Obama in the 2008 election, has a brimming campaign fund — as of January he had $125,000 to Gill’s $44,000 — and a Rolodex filled with Democratic heavyweights from around the country.
The race between the two lawyers from Montclair with virtually identical ideologies is expected to be one of the fiercest state primaries this year, and one that in this reliably Democratic 34th District in Essex County is tantamount to being elected.
Gill placed third in a Democratic primary last year to fill an open US House seat.
Hyers charted Cicilline's rise as a congressman when he vaulted out of Providence City Hall and beat Republican John Loughlin in 2010.
The freshman congressman was the subject of many premature obits last year, due to the fiscal problems that emerged in Providence after his departure from City Hall.
In the end, with Hyers back running the campaign, Cicilline vanquished GOP challenger Brendan Doherty by a surprisingly large margin of just over 12 points.