Gov. Christopher Christie and U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman appeared in Jersey City on April 17, and it wasn’t to close traffic lanes or to announce the arrest of alleged crooked politicians.
Christie and Fishman came to speak at a conference on prisoner reentry that was hosted in part by the city of Jersey City and former governor (and currently head of Jersey City Workforce Development) James McGreevey.
In truth, Christie and Fishman didn’t actually appear at the podium together. Christie came in the back door as Fishman, trailed by a dozen members of the press, left through the front.
Although jovial, Christie was not the same as he was when he came to Hudson County prior to the November election to campaign in Secaucus and Bayonne. He looked haggard, especially in those moments when the focus of attention was on someone else.
The wear and tear of what the media is calling “Bridgegate” seems obvious, although Christie has done his best to keep up his usual banter, being especially playful with his one-time adversary, McGreevey, who Christie hounded out of office in 2003. While McGreevey’s resignation as governor came partly with his admission that he was gay, at the time, Christie – as U.S. Attorney – was investigating a number of close McGreevey insiders.
Ironically, McGreevey’s choice for state attorney general, David Samson, had – according to former Assemblyman Louis Manzo, who has recently published a book on Christie – helped Christie from inside the McGreevey administration.
Yet, a decade later, Christie greeted McGreevey as an old friend, even if, as he said, they still disagree on many policy issues. This time, Christie is the one Democrats are trying to drive out of office, and ironically, they are using Samson as their battering ram. Although Samson has resigned as the chairman of the Port Authority, he has become the focus of a lot of attention in regard to alleged conflicts of interest.
Behind the scenes, Democrats are working every angle to make sure that Christie remains on the defensive, partly because revenge is sweet, hot or cold, but also to make sure he is too damaged to make a serious run for president in 2016 against likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Many Democrats see Christie as too dangerous an opponent, a Republican that could bring together the Republicans in a way George W. Bush did. While former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also seen as a possible moderate Republican, some Democrats believe his name hurts him after the nation has already endured two presidents with that last name.
Weehawken to see contested municipal election
If you want to see Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner sweat, just tell him someone is running against him or his ticket.
Just the rumor of a run will get under his skin.
While no candidate is foolish enough to run against Turner, candidates have emerged to challenge two council seats: Joseph Mendez and Richard Decosmis.
Turner’s tickets have been challenged in the past, but it is generally a rare thing and thus noteworthy – something akin to finding trouble in paradise.
This, along with the District Seven freeholder race, will likely keep Turner and his allies occupied until mid-June, when they can all breathe sigh of relief and wait four years more for their next municipal election.
In the June freeholder primary, Turner needs to get out the Weehawken vote in favor of Caridad Rodriguez in order to make up for a possible good turnout in West New York for Freeholder Jose Munoz.
Munoz, who had the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization when first elected three years ago, finds himself on the opposite side in the June 3 Democratic Primary. A vehement critic of WNY Mayor Felix Roque, Munoz has managed to make enemies of nearly every political boss in North Hudson, including state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Rep. Albio Sires, Turner and most recently, state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
Upset with Sacco over failing to get his support for reelection, Munoz apparently severed even cordial relations with Sacco by cozying up to freeholder candidate Police Sgt. Henry Marrero, who is running against Sacco-endorsed Anthony Vainieri in District 8.
Fulop endorses Smith in Bayonne
Proving at least for the moment that he can set aside past disagreements, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop threw his support behind Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith in the Bayonne municipal elections.
This was something of a shock to some supporters of James Davis, who is one of two candidates challenging Smith. But it should not have been a surprise. Fulop had been veering in Smith’s direction for more than a month, and even agreed to support Kenneth Kopacz, a Smith candidate for freeholder, rather than Davis-supported Rafael Augusto in the June Primary in District 1.
In December, some people in the Davis camp had seen Fulop as a potential ally, trying to make use of the ill feelings created last year when Smith endorsed and supported then Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy over Fulop.
But Fulop is too savvy to let a local dispute get in the way of his ambition to run for governor in 2017, and he knows that he will need Democrats in Hudson County united to accomplish it. Bayonne came out for Christie last November, and the last thing Fulop needs is an anti-Fulop campaign being waged in his own back yard.
Davis supporters, however, have taken the move in stride and claim that Smith and Fulop have come to an agreement over other potential state level candidates in exchange for the endorsement.
Unfortunately for Fulop, if Davis wins, this endorsement could come back to haunt him, but at this point, a Davis victory is still a big “if.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.