As much as it may not seem like it at times, all politics is organized.
Someone wants to get elected and needs other people to help. Often this means building a coalition of people who represent different parts of the community, because in general, no one group has enough votes by itself to carry a candidate into office.
This is particularly true in places like Hoboken, Jersey City, and Bayonne, which traditionally have a number of ethnic or racial divisions. But as the waterfront gets developed, the interest groups behind various candidates change. In the past, political interest groups seemed to form around ethnic or racial interests, but more and more, the fight has become old versus new as neighborhoods gentrify.
As much as politicians like to sell the idea that there is a big pie and everybody will get a piece, the truth is that there is only a limited amount to go around, and the political process is about who gets how much.
Most politics in most communities can be about one group wanting change and another wanting to stop it, or one group wanting things that other groups currently possess (a bigger piece of the pie).
In places like Secaucus and Bayonne as well as West Hudson, people have lived in a time warp, decades behind the rest of the county. But as development expands outward from the Gold Coast and new ethnic and racial groups move into these communities, the political battles will likely be similar to those faced in Hoboken.
Cammarano may be helpful to county candidates
As it turns out, newly elected Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano did not snub U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez at the July 1 swearing-in ceremony. Menendez’s office confirmed that the mayor did send an invitation to the event. This came at the same time the new Hoboken administration was planning to replace Menendez ally Donald Scarinci’s legal contract with the city.
Under the political surface, things are brewing, not just locally, but on a statewide level.
Cammarano’s campaign showed that he can muster significant forces throughout the state, and it appears that county officials would like to tap into that for their own benefit. While 2010 has its fair share of political battles, everyone is looking to 2011 when the county executive, freeholders, and a host of other slots will come up for re-election.
Cammarano, meanwhile, is facing his first serious challenge from an opposition city council led by Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer, whom he defeated in last month’s runoff election. Zimmer is seeking to restore the council’s power to make appointments to the Zoning Board, a power that the council lost under former Mayor Anthony Russo in the early 1990s. Cammarano could take much of the steam out of the Zimmer initiative if he promotes Tony Soares from alternate to full voting member.
Meanwhile, State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Rep. Albio Sires, and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner met in Hoboken last week to discuss a possible threat made against Sires’ congressional seat. They invited recent council candidate Raul Morales Jr. The trio also expects to meet with Councilwoman Beth Mason and Council President Zimmer in the near future.
Bayonne special election attracts interest
Bayonne is gearing up for a special election in November to fill the unexpired council term of Anthony Chiappone.
Former mayoral candidate Leonard Kantor said he intends to run for the seat. Jack Butchko, former vice chair of the Hudson County Democratic Party, is also considering the move.
Recently, people from President Barack Obama’s administration have reached out to Jack Butchko for his input on the crucial issue of National Health Care Reform. Butchko once served as a policy analyst and staff director for a United States Senate subcommittee on health.
Secaucus is the next big race
“The American custom,” Will Rogers once said, “is that if you can’t beat a man at anything, the last straw is to debate him.”
Conventional political wisdom is, don’t debate if you’re substantially ahead in the polls. You can only lose ground – especially if you make a mistake.
Mayor Dennis Elwell’s Democratic Primary win in June may give his challenger, Councilman Michael Gonnelli, reason to reconsider the debate. But he needs to be wary.
In the mid-1990s, Elwell, who was then the opposition candidate against incumbent Democratic Mayor Anthony Just, agreed to a TV debate. Elwell, however, was unaware of the conspiracy against him. Mayor Just’s handlers not only prepped him for the debate and gave him props to use, they also brought him into the studio more than a week before the debate so that Just would be used to the lights and the environment. These things helped Just beat Elwell, and since Elwell now has the benefit of some of Just’s former handlers, such tricks are still possible.
Gonnelli, however, may soon get some help if reports are true that Tom Bartoli will begin working on his campaign.
Meanwhile, Susan Pirro – who just lost her primary bid for 3rd Ward council seat in Secaucus – won a more important victory in the courts when the case against her for allegedly forging signatures of Board of Education members on a campaign endorsement was dismissed.
And Councilman Gonnelli will officially kick off his campaign as part of the “Take Back Secaucus” ticket at a reception on July 26, where he will introduce his council slate of Rob Costantino, Councilman John Bueckner, and Bill McKeever.