New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has formally endorsed interim Mayor Vic Carstarphen in Camden’s contested Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday, June 8.
“Vic Carstarphen has a bold vision to lift up all of Camden’s residents and lead the city toward a brighter future,” Murphy wrote in an official statement on Friday.
The move comes amid speculation from opponents that former Mayor Frank Moran left office early to clear the field for Carstarphen, who is favored by South Jersey Democratic power brokers, such as insurance executive George Norcross.
Moran had reportedly bucked efforts to place more of the financially distressed city government under county control and then abruptly resigned in April, ostensibly for health reasons, several months shy of the end of his term. Just hours later, a string of party leaders lined up behind Carstarphen, an accounting executive best known locally as a high school basketball coach.
Although he served on Camden’s City Council for just a year and a half, Carstarphen was quickly chosen by his colleagues to serve as interim mayor. And since then, other candidates for mayor, like Spanish teacher Luis Quinones, say they’ve faced threats or other underhanded acts.
“Our lawn signs have all disappeared,” said candidate Elton Custis, the city’s African American Commissioner.