'Disrupt the corrupt': Hackensack woman kicks off presidential campaign with $168

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HACKENSACK — Monica Brinson is ready to take her message of uplifting the middle class and fighting political corruption to the highest office in the United States, with a long-shot campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

She recently kicked off her campaign at a Newark Republicans’ event, launched her website and began fundraising. So far, Brinson, a substitute teacher from Hackensack, has just 22 of the 1,000 signatures needed to get on the New Jersey primary ballot in June and $168 in her campaign coffers.

She knows her odds of success are long, but she said she feels the time is right for a little-known candidate to emerge from a grassroots effort and make change on a national scale.

Monica Brinson of Hackensack is compiling signatures to get on the ballot in New Jersey as a Republican 12024 presidential candidate.
Monica Brinson of Hackensack is compiling signatures to get on the ballot in New Jersey as a Republican 12024 presidential candidate.

“I have known since I was 7 years old, I was going to be president. I felt it in my soul,” said Brinson, 53. “Now is my time, from everything I’ve been through, everything I’ve learned, now is the time to make a difference. I want to disrupt the corrupt on both sides of the aisle.”

Brinson’s political roots stretch back to middle school, when she was elected student council president. She was elected class president each of her four years at Hackensack High School.

In 2017, she ran for governor, and later, after suspending her campaign, worked for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s gubernatorial campaign. Two years later, she was a founder of a recall committee that tried to remove Gov. Phil Murphy from office.

Brinson, who is Black, said she wants to uplift urban areas and communities that have been historically neglected and disenfranchised.

Feb. 21, 2024; North Augusta, SC, USA; Presidential candidate and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks during her tour stop at the North Augusta Municipal Building. Mandatory Credit: Katie Goodale-USA TODAY
Feb. 21, 2024; North Augusta, SC, USA; Presidential candidate and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks during her tour stop at the North Augusta Municipal Building. Mandatory Credit: Katie Goodale-USA TODAY

“I want the Black community to go from surviving to thriving,” she said. “I’m here for all of America, but these urban areas keep me up at night. I want to invest in education and make sure no child is afraid of being shot on their way to school.”

As president, Brinson said, she would crack down on government corruption and excessive spending and work to rein in inflation.

While Donald Trump is currently the GOP front-runner with Nikki Haley trailing behind, Brinson said perhaps there is an opening for a new candidate to step in.

“He has a lot going on with his legal battles,” she said. “I want President Trump to know that I will take it from here. Even if he grabs the nomination, while he’s in prison, he can rest assured, I’m going to handle this.”

Brinson is also working on a children’s book about her journey from her childhood with presidential aspirations to her time as high school class president to her candidacy today.

Donald Trump brought his returning bid for the White House to Greenville, S.C. The former President was in town for a Ingraham Angle Town Hall at the Greenville Convention Center on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. Guests react as Trump arrives to the Town Hall.
Donald Trump brought his returning bid for the White House to Greenville, S.C. The former President was in town for a Ingraham Angle Town Hall at the Greenville Convention Center on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. Guests react as Trump arrives to the Town Hall.

Her wide-ranging life experience — she has worked in a factory, as a pharmaceutical sales representative and as a substitute teacher — gives her a perspective that other candidates lack, she said.

Demetrius Eley, the director of community affairs for Brinson’s campaign, said it is refreshing to see someone like Brinson, who has little political experience, running for such a high office.

“It gives people an opportunity to see someone who’s not a lifelong politician try and make a difference,” said Eley, who teaches in Newark and runs the nonprofit Daraja of Love. “It’s always good for people, especially in the inner city, to see someone who has a similar background doing something on such a large scale. I think it’s really cool she’s running right now.”

Brinson is not alone in her long-shot bid to be the next president of the United States. Besides the leading candidates, hundreds of others have registered with the Federal Election Commission as Republican, Democratic, third-party or independent candidates.

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Of those, just nine Democrats and nine Republicans have qualified to appear on five or more primary ballots, and some of those candidates have withdrawn since entering the race.

Each state has its own requirements and deadlines to get on the ballot.

Brinson needs to collect 1,000 signatures to appear on the New Jersey primary ballot by March 25. Several states have already held their primaries. Some deadlines in other states have already passed. Brinson acknowledges the timing is tight.

Her entry into the race was delayed by a diagnosis of sarcoma cancer in her leg. She is still healing from surgery in December to remove the tumor and is undergoing physical therapy to regain her strength.

“It’s crunch time, but I’m not giving up. Just as I fought cancer and beat it, that’s how I’m going to beat down what’s going on in America right now,” she said.

Brinson’s birthday just passed on Feb. 19. It landed on Presidents Day this year. She’s taking that as a sign.

“I feel I’m the right choice and the right voice,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting the word out there.”

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Hackensack NJ woman starts presidential campaign with $168