State Sen. Jon Bramnick, a Never Trump Republican, announces a 2025 run for NJ governor

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After considering runs in New Jersey's last two gubernatorial elections, state Sen. Jon Bramnick has officially decided to throw his hat into the ring.

Bramnick announced Saturday afternoon at the Stress Factory comedy club in New Brunswick that he will run to be the 2025 Republican nominee.

Bramnick, 70, took to the stage and with “great humility” announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for many reasons — “first and foremost to bring back balanced public policies to Trenton.”

“In order to have balance we need two political parties in Trenton. Right now we have one,” Bramnick said, in a reference to Democrats' control of the governor's office and the state Legislature. “When I’m elected, Democrats will have to negotiate and compromise or I will take out my veto pen and politely return it to them for reconsideration.”

But the senator, whose district stretches across parts of Middlesex, Morris, Somerset and Union counties, said that calling Gov. Phil Murphy and President Joe Biden names is “not a path to victory” for his party, nor is it a political strategy.

No excuses for Jan. 6 Capitol riot, he says

"Thoughtful voters, the voters that we need,” are not crazy about Murphy and the Democratic Legislature, but “they don’t quite trust us, the Republicans," he said.

Bramnick acknowledged that the Republican Party should not be making excuses for Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol rioters or sowing doubts about the electoral process.

Instead, he said, the party should be returning to the ideals of smaller and more efficient government, law and order, and lower taxes. "Hateful rhetoric is a threat to our democracy and a terrible, terrible message to our children,” said Bramnick, who has served in Trenton for more than 20 years.

Bramnick also sent a message to his possible competition in next June’s primary.

“To those potential Republicans who are running against me, who promise our Republican voters that you will rule this state far to the political right: Not only can’t you do it, but you will lose the election, and the only thing that will change is that the Democrats will become more extreme,” he said.

Jan 27, 2024; New Brunswick, NJ, United States; The audience during an event for State Sen. Jon Bramnick, a Republican, to announce his run for NJ governor at The Stress Factory.
Jan 27, 2024; New Brunswick, NJ, United States; The audience during an event for State Sen. Jon Bramnick, a Republican, to announce his run for NJ governor at The Stress Factory.

Endorsements from Bush, Boehner

Bramnick’s announcement included video endorsements of his candidacy from former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who said he had known Bramnick for 20 years, and former Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush — son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — who said Bramnick would make New Jersey “safer and more affordable.” Bush also delivered words of support in Spanish.

Viewed by many as a moderate, Bramnick has not been shy about his Never Trump stance.

"We have to win the swing voters, the people in the middle," Bramnick said last fall. "And if you want to win them, they have to trust you. And if swing voters believe that the Republicans are not trustworthy because they won't stand up against ridiculous comments such as the election was fake, or Jan. 6 wasn't a serious situation, then the image of the Republican Party will be defined by Donald Trump in New Jersey, and we will stay in the minority."

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Who is Jon Bramnick?

The senator, who lives in Westfield, is an attorney at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold and Mangan in Scotch Plains. He served on the City Council in Plainfield from 1984 to 1991.

He got his start in Trenton in 2003 as a member of the Assembly, where he served as Republican leader from 2012 until 2021, when he won the Senate seat he currently holds.

In addition to his public service, Bramnick is a comedian, playing gigs at venues throughout the state.

Deemed the “funniest lawyer in New Jersey” by the state bar association, Bramnick began his legal career as a trial attorney in New York before founding his own firm on this side of the river in 1984.

Jan 27, 2024; New Brunswick, NJ, United States; Patricia Bramnick talks about her husband State Sen. Jon Bramnick, a Republican, before his announcement that he is running for NJ governor during an event at The Stress Factory.
Jan 27, 2024; New Brunswick, NJ, United States; Patricia Bramnick talks about her husband State Sen. Jon Bramnick, a Republican, before his announcement that he is running for NJ governor during an event at The Stress Factory.

Law firm faced criticism

The firm has made headlines on its own over the last few years, most recently when partner Michael Noriega was named to the state Supreme Court. In 2018, the firm was criticized for a section on its website that offered to discredit the "accuser" in sexual assault cases; women's rights advocates said that encouraged victim blaming.

"We know, unfortunately, people accuse others of these types of crimes because of hurt feelings, or in anger over breaking up or even confusion over what actually happened," the webpage said. It continued: "We will investigate your case and seek to discredit your accuser."

Bramnick said at the time that he did not write the language on the website and said he does not practice criminal law, the area the page was advertising. He acknowledged that the page "may not be articulately written" but said it was meant to apply only to people who are lying, not meant to imply that all victims are making false claims.

Bramnick is serving his first four-year term as senator, meaning he can remain in the Senate even if he loses in the gubernatorial primary.

Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse. Email: sobko@northjersey.com

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: State Sen. Jon Bramnick announces 2025 GOP run for NJ governor