Sen. Joe Cryan has placed himself at the center of a growing storm touching on abortion, gun violence, and white nationalism, irritating Elizabeth Democrats and turning himself into a high-profile political target as voters prepare to cast ballots in the Democratic primary election.
Cryan cast the deciding vote that closed six Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey when he helped Republican Governor Chris Christie enact the 2010 state budget.
Cryan convinced Union Township officials—whose fortunes he controls as the local political boss—to welcome an NRA-affiliated shooting range and firearms dealer to a location on Route 22.
And, while trying to reverse key accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement by rolling back bail reforms recently signed into law as he earned vocal support from Trump-loving police unions. Cryan also opposed legislation championed by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka that would allow cities to require police employees to reside in the municipality where they work.
The debate over policing intensified in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police prompted worldwide protests but Cryan has defended the practice of qualified immunity, which shields errant cops who engaged in police brutality and other crimes from civil liability.
Qualified immunity has literally enabled police to get away with murder and it became a widespread focus of controversy after the murder of George Floyd.
A year after the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association (PBA) voted to support President Donald J. Trump for president, the organization made a rare pre-primary endorsement of Cryan, who was then being challenged by Assemblyman Jamel Holley, who is currently a candidate for mayor in Roselle and backing Column B state Senate candidate Angela Alvey-Wimbush.
“Senator Cryan has been a tremendous partner in all of our efforts to work with communities throughout the 20th district,” said NJSPBA President Patrick Colligan whose “major goal was re-establishing relationships with politicians.”
“It is our policy to refrain from endorsing candidates involved in a Primary, but Joe’s leadership during this health crisis in adhering to the science and working to supply critical personal protective equipment and vaccination shots for the community caused us to take this drastic step,” said Colligan.
Cryan also had the endorsement of former Elizabeth Democratic Municipal Chairman Tony Teixeira, who has since pleaded guilty to tax evasion and thievery over a five-year period in concert with confessed killer Sean Caddle, who was employed as a consultant for the Column A candidate’s 2013 campaign.
After Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to get “the white extremists, the white nationalists” out of the military, Cryan said he’d describe the white nationalists “Americans.”
“I cannot believe this needs to be said, but white nationalism has no place in our armed forces and no place in any corner of American society, period, full stop, end of story,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Abortion is an issue that has repeatedly helped Democrats win elections since the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but at the outset of his career in the Legislature, Cryan declared that he would outlaw abortion except in cases of rape and incest, or if pregnancy endangered a woman’s life.
Cryan proved his position when he closed six Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey and in 2004, he beat up a girlfriend after she terminated a pregnancy.
“Cryan is widely considered someone who is a white nationalist that would be more comfortable as a Trump Republican but he knows that MAGA Republicans have very little chance of winning elections in the Democratic communities of New Jersey,” said James Devine, a liberal political strategist who has tangled with the lawmaker in the past.
“Joe Cryan soaks taxpayers for more than $330,000 a year in salaries and he is a vile human being but for reasons that escape me, he holds sway over much of the political establishment,” said Devine. “His father was responsible for suppressing African American votes in Newark when the late Senator Ron Rice was starting out in politics, working to overcome white supremacy and mafia influence in government, at least until John Cryan’s federal indictment.”