HUDSON COUNTY -- Vowing to take the Democratic fight for senior citizens, teachers and others back to Trenton, incumbent Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell won a substantial victory over his two Democratic and Republican challengers. O’Donnell – with 9,364 machine votes counted – beat Republican Joseph Turula, 3,028, and independent Democrats Denis Wilbeck, 2,133, and Robert Mays, 1,006.
“I’m going to tell Gov. Christie to go to hell,” O’Donnell said, “if he thinks he can balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens.”
With the support of Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, who also chairs the Hudson County Democratic Organization, and State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, County Executive Tom DeGise, Assemblyman Charles Mainor and other prominent Democrats, O’Donnell overwhelmed his opponents in a race to fill the unexpired term of Anthony Chiappone, who resigned in August after pleading guilty to charges related to misuse of campaign funds.
“This was a big victory,” said Mayor Mark Smith, for whom the election was a test of his leadership as chairman of the HCDO, and his first election beyond the borders of Bayonne. The 31st District encompasses all of Bayonne and two thirds of Jersey City. O’Donnell not only drew more votes in Bayonne, but also won substantial victories in areas of Jersey City that were presumed strongholds of opposition.
Meanwhile, incumbent Hudson County Sheriff Juan Perez failed to win reelection, falling to his Democratic challenger Frank Schillari. Perez, who switched parties to run as a Republican after Democrats selected Schillari as their candidate, managed to do well in Bayonne, but not as well as expected in Jersey City, and could not overcome the strong vote for Schillari in North Hudson. Schillari beat Perez, 25,038 to 12,160.