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Meet Steven Fulop, the Jewish mayor who wants to be New Jersey’s next governor

Fulop’s family history, which includes Holocaust survivors and an Israeli military veteran, ‘has always guided my values’

The Jewish mayor of New Jersey’s second-most populous city has tossed his hat into the ring to become the state’s next governor.

On Tuesday, Steven Fulop, a 46-year-old Democrat who has served as mayor of Jersey City since 2013, announced his candidacy to succeed Phil Murphy in the 2025 gubernatorial election. Murphy, a fellow Democrat, has served two consecutive terms and is ineligible to run again due to the state’s term limits. In January, Fulop announced he would not seek a fourth mayoral term. 

“From my time serving as a U.S. Marine to leading Jersey City as Mayor, my career has always been guided by a strong desire to take on difficult challenges and find solutions that help improve peoples’ lives, and now I’m running for Governor to bring those same values to Trenton,” Fulop said in a statement sent to the Forward.

“As the son of Jewish immigrants and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know how important it is to stand up against hatred, bigotry and antisemitism in all its forms. That personal family history has always guided my values and my public service, and as Governor I will work towards a more just society that treats people of every background with fairness and respect.”

According to a 2019 profile, all four of Fulop’s grandparents were Holocaust survivors, including a grandmother who was sent to Auschwitz. His father grew up in Israel and served as a sniper in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1967 War.

Fulop grew up in Edison, New Jersey, where he attended Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva, an Orthodox day school, followed by the Solomon Schechter School of Union and Essex. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University, which is part of the State University of New York, as well as master’s degrees from both Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and New York University’s Stern School of Business.

In a video posted to social media, Fulop’s campaign touted his service in the Marines after 9/11 as an example of his leadership. According to his LinkedIn profile, Fulop had worked at investment bank Goldman Sachs for five years before he enlisted and attained the rank of corporal.

His official biography describes Fulop as progressive and showcases his role in creating 1,500 units of affordable housing and 10,000 new jobs, while also mentioning policies that would appeal to centrists, such as hiring 300 new police officers.

Jersey City has a small Jewish community, with only 6,000 out of 284,000 residents identifying as Jewish. But that community has deep roots. Jews were first recorded settling there in 1858 and the first synagogues were built around that time.

In December 2019, two people carrying guns entered a Jersey City kosher market and opened fire, killing three members of the Jewish community and a police officer. The two suspects, one of whom had published antisemitic social media posts, were killed in a shootout with police.

After the shooting, Fulop took to Twitter to proclaim his pride in his Jewish background and to denounce hatred and antisemitism. 

In November, after the FBI warned of threats against Jersey City’s seven synagogues, Fulop said police would be posted outside the congregations and would undertake extra patrols in Jewish neighborhoods. 

The mayor has also been an outspoken supporter of refugees seeking asylum in the United States. In 2017, shortly after then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from six predominantly Muslim countries, Fulop said Jersey City was “as proud as ever to be home to immigrants and refugees from all over the world” in an op-ed for the Forward. 

With the announcement, Fulop becomes the second person to officially declare their candidacy for governor. In December, Steve Sweeney, the outgoing New Jersey state senate president, told the New Jersey State Association of Pipe Trades he intended to seek the Democratic nomination. Others mentioned as potential candidates include Ras Baraka, mayor of Newark, which is the state’s most populous city.

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