A not so secret message
Jun 29, 2014 | 1012 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Freeholder Bill O’Dea, who hopes to run for Hudson County Executive next year, got the message: everybody who is anybody politically in Hudson County politics is lining up behind the reelection bid of the incumbent, Tom DeGise.

“When you have Nick Sacco and Brian Stack backing a [different] candidate, it is hard to see how I can win,” he said in a somewhat philosophical comment last week.

DeGise is making his way around the county getting endorsement after endorsement a year before he would have to seek the Democratic nomination in June, 2015.

This is intentional, said people behind the scenes in the DeGise camp, who figure the sooner O’Dea gets the message, the less time and money will be wasted in a campaign O’Dea can’t win anyway.

O’Dea had hoped to broker his support for the election of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop into support for a county executive run. But even O’Dea realizes that without Stack or Sacco, any attempt to beat DeGise is unrealistic. Sacco and Stack can generate tens of thousands of votes O’Dea can’t match, even with Fulop’s support.

Insiders believe Fulop, who is likely to run for governor, will eventually also endorse DeGise. DeGise would support Fulop’s gubernatorial effort, and if O’Dea still has his heart set on advancing to higher office, both Fulop and DeGise might even support him for state Assembly.

But even this might be a problem. The 31st Assembly district encompasses southern Jersey City and all of Bayonne. Historically, one seat is designated to each town, to someone supported by the mayor of each town.

While Fulop people have been measuring the seat currently occupied by Assemblyman Charles Mainor for someone of their choice, they might not want to run afoul of State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, who appears to support Mainor.

So O’Dea may be out of luck, unless some other seat becomes available. He might even have to wait for Fulop to get elected governor and obtain something on a state level such as an appointment to the Port Authority.

Changes in Bayonne

The Bayonne swearing-in will be over by the time Bayonne residents read this column. But the lineup for the event suggests just how much behind the scenes support James Davis had prior to the June 10 runoff.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez was expected to swear Davis in at the event, held in the high school auditorium rather than closing the street in front of City Hall as was done a number of times in the past.

But a lot of things remain unsettled going into what will become a reorganization meeting, showing significant division within the Davis ranks.

The most pressing issue will be the selection of a council president to replace outgoing Council President Terrence Ruane.

Three of Davis’ newly elected council members are vying for the seat: Sharon Nadrowski, Juan Perez, and Gary LaPelusa.

Nadrowski is seen as a strong choice partly because she is the only woman on the council (the Smith administration had two) and some in the Davis camp would like to give a woman a stronger position on the new council.

Some see LaPelusa as the logical choice since he previously served four years on the council and is the only member of the new council with any experience.

Still others are pushing for Perez, who as one time county sheriff, had significant experience beyond municipal government.

But some are wary of Perez, and see this move to become council president only as a stepping stone to the state Assembly.

Mayor Davis will have to pick someone to replace Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, when O’Donnell’s term expires at the end of next year.

O’Donnell, a key member of Smith’s inner circle, is also expected to lose his position as municipal public safety director. The Davis people are also expected to mount a challenge to remove O’Donnell as chairman of the Bayonne Democratic Organization.

But Perez is not the only person interested in the Assembly seat, and Davis may have to make some hard choices in the near future.

Most if not all the municipal directors will likely be replaced, and a number are expected to submit their retirement papers.

Although Kenneth Kopacz won the Democratic nomination for freeholder with Smith’s endorsement, he seems to have come through the Bayonne election unscathed. Although he is facing opposition by independent candidate Michael Alonso, Kopacz will have the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization.

Vega is not endorsing Roque

Despite the rumors, former West New York Mayor Sal Vega said he is not endorsing Mayor Felix Roque in the 2015 election.

Vega still has hopes that he might run for the seat himself – in what is expected to become a crowded field of candidates.

Roque’s political stock has risen significantly since last year this time, and his position for reelection is much stronger. While he has not definitely declared his candidacy for reelection, most of those close to him expect him to run.

A big test will be how his candidates do in the November school board election, a kind of bellwether for his team. But the victory of Caridad Rodriguez in the freeholder democratic primary against Jose Munoz hinted of a powerful organization that Roque can rely on.

“We call him Roque reborn,” said one of his key people.

Luck has been on Roque’s side, as well as a number of good political choices after near two years of bad political moves.

Even fate appears to be working in Roque’s favor. Recently, while working in his medical office, he heard a rumbling and rushed out in time to help save the life of someone who had been injured as a result of a fallen brick wall. A military man, he doesn’t rattle easily, and so rushed over and gave the person mouth to mouth until EMTs could arrive.

Large changes inside the Roque administration have helped him revamp his team, especially the addition of Donald Scarinci as town attorney.

“Donald knows how to run municipal government,” one worker said. “He doesn’t put up with anything. A person either does their job or they’re gone.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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