Like a mirage that recedes as you approach it, lately it seems an endorsement in the 2013 Jersey City mayoral race may be here today, gone tomorrow.
A week after Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy lost the support of Assemblyman Sean Connors (D-33rd Dist.), his challenger in the upcoming race, Councilman Steven Fulop was caught up in an endorsement fiasco of his own.
On Nov. 27, the Fulop campaign announced the endorsement of Bishop Dr. Reginald T. Jackson, the former executive director of the Black Ministers’ Council of New Jersey, and that of several other African American clergy members in Jersey City. As is commonplace when such announcements are made, the Fulop campaign issued a press release that was widely distributed to media outlets across the state.
The press release included the names of 12 other clergy members who had supposedly said they were prepared to endorse Fulop. In addition to the release itself, the Fulop campaign also held a short press conference to announce this support on Nov. 27.
Overstreet said that the use of his name in an endorsement and coverage of the endorsement were “blasphemous.”
Days later, however, Overstreet seemed shocked to discover that his name was being linked to Fulop as a supporter of the councilman’s 2013 mayoral bid. In angry calls to media outlets that had printed the press release, including the Reporter, Overstreet said his name had been misused in the Fulop release. He also said that the use of his name in an endorsement and coverage of the endorsement were “blasphemous.”
The calls were followed days later with a small newspaper ad in which Overstreet – referring to himself in the third person – said, “He’s mad as hell because no one speaks for him.”
Elsewhere in the ad Overstreet says, “I have not endorsed Fulop or anyone. To all the pastors who are so willing to give their endorsements please be mindful, given the history of our country’s corruption.”
He further lashed out against those whom he called “pulpit puppets” who, he said, are “selling out the African American community with their cheap endorsements.”
Overstreet did not return phone calls from the Reporter.
‘Things are in flux’
The minister’s stance last week came as a surprise to Fulop.
“We had 12 pastors, each confirmed multiple times, and we had each confirm with multiple people present to avoid miscommunication prior to the [press] event,” Fulop said in response to Overstreet’s ad.
“Rev. Overstreet was no different on this front, and it is evident, as 11 other pastors didn’t have an issue,” he said. “He never came to me in person [and indicated that there was a problem], nor did he go to any of the other pastors, nor any of the others he confirmed with, but instead went to the media first. I can’t speak for Rev. Overstreet, as he now indicated after the release and press conference via talking to media outlets only that he feels that he didn’t want to be part of a group endorsement.”
Fulop added, “Over the years, I’ve recognized in this political business, unfortunately, egos are very fragile. I am comfortable with whatever he decides.”
According to one source, after the Nov. 27 Fulop press event, some pastors who endorsed him or who were thinking about endorsing received some blowback from their congregants – many of whom support State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, who is reportedly under pressure to run for mayor herself next year. Many members of the African American community would likely support her if she were to run.
But another political observer said, “This isn’t just about Sandy. What we’re seeing with Overstreet [last] week and Sean Connors is just how fluid this race is. Neither of the two declared [mayors candidates] have really shored up their support. Things are in flux, which means someone may be with Healy today and Fulop tomorrow, or vice versa.”
Two weeks ago Assemblyman Connors withdrew his endorsement from Healy, citing deficiencies in the mayor’s handling of Superstorm Sandy.
Last week, the Jersey City Education Association announced its endorsement of Healy. Meanwhile, the Fulop campaign announced that it had the support of City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez and former Councilmen Jamie Vazquez and Junior Maldonado.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.