Sandra Bolden Cunningham

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Sandra Bolden Cunningham
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 31st Legislative District
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1950-09-04) September 4, 1950 (age 64)
Political party Democratic
Residence Jersey City, New Jersey
Alma mater B.A. Bloomfield College (Liberal Arts)
Occupation Administrator, Sandra and Glenn D. Cunningham Foundation
Website Legislative web page

Sandra Bolden Cunningham (September 4, 1950) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has been serving in the New Jersey State Senate since 2007, where she represents the 31st Legislative District. She was sworn into office on November 8, 2007.[1] She is the widow of former Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, who died in 2004.

In the Senate, she has been assigned to serve as Vice Chairwoman of the Economic Growth Committee and as a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Labor Committee.[2] She is the current Senate Majority Whip.

In 2012, the Hudson Reporter named her #6 in its list of Hudson County's 50 most influential people, with North Bergen mayor Nicholas Sacco ranked first on the list.[3]

Early life[edit]

Cunningham received a B.A. from Bloomfield College with a major in Liberal Arts.[2]


Following her husband's death, she tried to win a special election for his seat in the State Senate and was reported to be considering a run for Mayor of Jersey City in a special election. She became President of the Sandra and Glenn Cunningham Foundation and has supported causes in Jersey City through the foundation. In 2006 signs in Jersey City touted her as a candidate for the U.S. Senate vs. Sen. Robert Menendez and State Sen. Tom Kean Jr.. Menendez and her late husband were bitter political rivals. She did not seek the U.S. Senate seat and announced her candidacy for the State Senate in the Democratic Primary against Sen. Joseph Doria in 2007. This is the Senate seat her husband held prior to his death.

Doria, the mayor of Bayonne, dropped out of the race in March 2007. Assemblyman Louis Manzo, who first won his seat on a ticket with Mayor Cunningham, challenged Mrs. Cunningham in the Democratic primary for the Senate. During the primary race, Senator Cunningham received the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who had previously opposed her and her late husband. One of Mrs. Cunningham's running mates for the Assembly was former State Sen. L. Harvey Smith, who had been defeated by her late husband in a bitter 2003 Senate primary. Senator Cunningham defeated Assemblyman Manzo in the Democratic primary in June 2007.[4] She was virtually unopposed in the November general election, defeating independent candidate Louis Vernotico with over 87% of the vote.[5]

Following Doria's October 2007 resignation to become Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Mrs. Cunningham was elected on October 23, 2007 by a special election convention to serve the remainder of Doria's term, which expired in January 2008. Cunningham served the remainder of Doria's term before beginning her own four-year term and was sworn into the State Senate on November 8, 2007.[6]

District 31[edit]

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 31st District for the 2012-2013 Legislative Session are:[7]

Election history[edit]

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sandra Bolden Cunningham (incumbent) 13,275 82.4
Republican Donnamarie James 2,836 17.6
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sandra Bolden Cunningham 10,821 87.7
Independent Louis Vernotico 1,511 12.3
Democratic hold


  1. ^ Baldwin, Tom. "2 new lawmakers take oath, become Assembly members", Courier-Post, November 9, 2007. Accessed November 20, 2007. "One new state senator was sworn in for the 31st District in Hudson County, Sandra Bolden Cunningham, who will finish the unexpired term of former Sen. Joseph Doria Jr. She holds the Senate seat once held by her late husband, Glenn, who died in office in 2004."
  2. ^ a b Senator Cunningham's legislative webpage, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed February 6, 2008.
  3. ^ Adriana Rambay Fernández, Stephen LaMarca, Gennarose Pope, Ray Smith, Al Sullivan and E. Assata Wright. "They've Got the Power". The Union City Reporter. January 8, 2012, pp. 1, 4-7 and 10-11.
  4. ^ Chen, David W. "Voters Send Mixed Signals to Democratic Organization in New Jersey Primaries", The New York Times, June 6, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012. "But in the other marquee battle for the Senate, in the southern end of the county, the Democratic organization’s choice, Sandra A. Bolden Cunningham, the widow of popular former mayor, defeated Assemblyman Louis M. Manzo."
  5. ^ Staff. "9th District legislators tout state's highest vote counts", The Press of Atlantic City, November 10, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012. "In that race, Sandra Bolden Cunningham, a Democrat, received 10,170 votes and defeated Louis Vernotico, who received 1,383 votes."
  6. ^ Hester Jr., Tom. "Senate Republicans boost Kean Jr. after losing seat in election", The Press of Atlantic City, November 9, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012. "In the Senate, Sandra Cunningham took the 31st District seat representing Hudson County. She replaces Joseph Doria, who resigned to become Community Affairs commissioner."
  7. ^ Legislative Roster 2012-2013 Session, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed June 25, 2012.
  8. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2012.
  9. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012.

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lynn Schundler
First Lady of Jersey City, New Jersey
July 2001 – May 2004
Succeeded by
Gail Smith
New Jersey Senate
Preceded by
Joseph Doria
New Jersey State Senator - 31st Legislative District
November 2007 – Present
Succeeded by