Supporters of Tom DeGise grinned about it as if this paltry vote, among the thousands of ballots cast countywide, symbolized an even greater victory than DeGise's victory over Bernard Hartnett.
Several local political observers say McCann, who served time for fraud in the past, is the loose cannon in a political field of clashing organizations, and for this reason, he scares people and inspires organized politicians to stop him.
In the midst of singing praises for the victorious Tom DeGise, Rep. Bob Menendez (D-13th Dist.) not only celebrated the small but significant victory over McCann, but promised to keep McCann from running as an independent in the 4th District freeholder race in November. A Menendez court challenge in May halted McCann's effort to get on the primary ballot.
"It amazes me how in the middle of their victory party they're all worrying about me," McCann said, analyzing his committee seat loss.
"My runningmate and my opponent were both presidents of a senior citizen building. About 140 of 250 votes in that district are from that building," he said. "People simply chose to vote for their presidents instead of our team."
McCann discounted the small election as symbolic of the general freeholder election in November. "The general election will see many more people and more independent voters," he said. "I do well with independent voters."
McCann also dismissed legal challenges Menendez promised to make.
"Bob Menendez hasn't practiced law in a long time," he said. "He should go back and read his law books."
This was not really an election
Secaucus-based attorney Donald Scarinci, a close friend of Rep. Bob Menendez, said the election issued a real blow to Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham - the man who backed Bernard Hartnett for county executive. Freeholder Bill Braker, on the Hartnett line, found himself battling a tough Melissa Holloway for the 3rd Freeholder district in downtown Jersey City.
"We came within 200 votes of beating him in his own base," Scarinci said, referring to the close vote between Holloway and Braker in the 3rd Freeholder district. "This showed that even African Americans - who supported Cunningham in the past - repudiated Cunningham's divisive message."
Scarinci said the primary really wasn't an election, and suggested that Hartnett resign as county executive to allow DeGise to begin running the county early.
Scarinci became the target of several harsh speeches issued by Cunningham during the primary campaign. "He used me to get at Bob Menendez," Scarinci said. "It is not smart politics to attack a sitting congressman with an 80 percent approval rating. So I was attacked instead."
Scarinci, however, said Cunningham has paid a tremendous price in lost credibility.
"Mayor Cunningham is a lame duck 11 months into office, and he has ceded leadership in Jersey City to the council," he said. "Cunningham has made himself governmentally and politically irrelevant."
McCann's take on the election
In reviewing the election numbers, McCann noticed one detail that the Menendez camp may not have seen.
"Those who voted for Hartnett did not vote for Menendez or Torricelli," McCann said. "While this might not hurt Menendez in November, Torricelli is faced with a tight race and might not carry the votes he needs from Hudson County."
U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli will be facing off against Republican Douglas Forrester in November.
McCann also disputed the claims that Menendez or even DeGise defeated Cunningham. "Cunningham was not on the ballot; Bernard Hartnett was, and Hartnett was a weak candidate," McCann said. "If Cunningham had run against DeGise, he would have won, just the way he beat DeGise for mayor last year. No one has defeated Cunningham and in a year, this is a race that starts all over again, and DeGise won't have Menendez at the top of the ticket to help him get elected."
McCann said in 2003, the fissures in the party will play a part. Bayonne Mayor Joe Doria will be seeking re-election to his assembly seat. North Bergen Mayor and State Senator Nicholas Sacco may face a challenge for his senate seat from Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos. State Senator Bernard Kenny might also seek to become the Hudson County Democratic Chairman, pitting South Hudson Democrats against North Hudson.
"It is likely that Cunningham will put a Hispanic candidate up in the 33rd Assembly District, and that Brian Stack could seek a seat in Trenton," McCann said. "With all that going on, you won't see the mayors on one side the way they are this year."
Cunningham's team did not do as badly as the overall numbers seemed to indicate, McCann said. "He did poorly in some areas and well in other areas," McCann said. "Cunningham got Bill Braker elected against a very powerful person in the black community."
Not a total loss
Freeholder Bill O'Dea's 2 to 1 victory over Brennan, although not as wide a margin as first predicted, left the Hartnett camp with some consolation.
"We hoped two months ago that we would get three to one or better," said former Freeholder Lou Manzo who served as O'Dea's campaign manager. "But it became clearer as the election neared that we were going to have a fight."
This was the fifth time O'Dea ran against the Democratic political machine and won.
"This election was a victory for Menendez," Manzo said. "He now emerges as the most powerful person in Hudson County, a man that can make or break mayors. But if Menendez believes that he can come into the west side of Jersey City, he will have to deal with O'Dea and me."
Manzo agreed with McCann in saying that Cunningham was not through.
"Glenn has his future in his own hands," he said. "Considering the enormous odds he had against him in this election - 11 mayors, seven councilmen, three congressmen, and seven of nine freeholders, he did pretty well."
Manzo predicted future battles looming, such as control over the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.
"If Menendez thinks he can come into Jersey City and run things, we'll spank him," Manzo said.
More than tidbits
Paul Byrne, who has become a legend for his behind-the-scenes political savvy and is the one-time best friend of former County Executive Robert Janiszewski, has been elected to a political office for the first time in his 30-year political career.
Byrne was elected to a Democratic committee seat in the E-21 district in Jersey City, beating incumbent Captain Al Chowanec 35 to 33.
"It's a humbling experience," Bryne said joking. "My first official act will be to hold a fundraiser to pay off my campaign debt."
Chowanec's most recent claim to fame was his threat to sue the Democratic Municipal Committee last year to find out what happened to $730,000 of money raised by Janiszewski in 2001.
In the true meaning of getting out the vote, June 4, 2001 was also the first election that Menendez's daughter, Alicia, voted for her father. Alicia is currently attending Harvard University. The election day also fell one day before the congressman's 26th wedding anniversary.
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner also a boasted about voting Democratic for the first time.