Pub. 20 2021-2022 Issue 4


President’s Message: What Do the 2021 Election Results Mean for New Jersey Auto Retailers?


This story appears in the
New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Dealers Magazine
Pub. 20 2021-2022 Issue 4

The November 2021 election in New Jersey had considerably more drama than we typically experience in the Garden State. Not only did Governor Phil Murphy win reelection in a much tighter race than expected, but Senate President Steve Sweeney, one of the most powerful legislators in the State, suffered a major upset when he was defeated by a Republican newcomer.

Most incumbent legislators will return to the Legislature for the 220th legislative session, which will begin on January 11, 2022, but Republicans were able to eat into the Democratic majorities, gaining three seats in the Senate and eight seats in the Assembly. This is more turnover than we typically see in statewide elections.

In the new session, the Assembly will continue to be led by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. The speaker is well-known to the dealership community and NJ CAR is confident he knows and respects dealerships as job creators and the economic engine on Main Street. With Senator Sweeney’s election loss, the Senate will have new leadership when Democrat Senator Nick Scutari takes the reigns on January 11.

The defeat of Senate President Sweeney presents a big question mark (and potential risk) for our industry. NJ CAR enjoyed a strong relationship with Senator Sweeney and dealers were able to rely upon him to throw the brakes on legislation that could hurt Main Street businesses. The loss of that legislative experience and his level-headed presence in the Senate cannot be overstated. Time will tell how Senator Scutari approaches his leadership role. But NJ CAR is confident we will be able to build a strong relationship with the new Senate leadership team and ensure they are educated about the issues that are most important to New Jersey’s neighborhood new car and truck dealerships.

Neighborhood new car dealers can view the election results as a “win” for common sense government.

Neighborhood new car dealers can view the election results as a “win” for common sense government. Despite the message of moderation delivered by November’s election results, it is not at all-clear the Murphy Administration is prepared to change course. Indeed, all signs, so far, are that the Governor plans to double-down on his progressive agenda. This is something the Coalition and its dealer members are likely to continue to struggle with throughout the Governor’s second term.

Regardless of how things play out with the Governor, NJ CAR will continue to build upon the positive relationships developed over the years in both the Senate and Assembly. The upcoming legislative session is expected to be a busy one for our industry. Emboldened by a second term, the Murphy Administration and Democratic-led Legislature will need to be reminded that NJ CAR’s franchised neighborhood new car and truck dealerships drive the Garden State retail economy and are leaders in hundreds of communities in which they operate.

NJ CAR will need every dealer in the State to roll up their sleeves and help meet this challenge.

With a network of 500+ neighborhood new car and truck dealerships providing consumers with vigorous price competition and ready access to warranty and recall service, our industry deserves to be heard. We will be counting on our growing NJ CARPOOL outreach network to engage with our elected officials to support legislation that benefits our industry and defeat legislation that would do us harm.