HUDSON COUNTY - In the midst of fighting to have her council slate re-take control of the Hoboken City Council, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer appears to be fighting a different battle with the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
Councilman Ravinder Bhalla, an ally of Zimmer, told state news website PolitickerNJ that his input wasn't considered in the formation of the HCDO's slate for the upcoming state Assembly race. Zimmer released a statement on Wednesday morning and said she was politically threatened by Union City Mayor and State Senator Brian Stack after Bhalla entered the Assembly race to challenge the HCDO.
For coverage of Zimmer's earlier statement, click HERE.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bayonne Mayor and HCDO Chairman Mark Smith issued a statement responding to Zimmer.
"When you peel away the layers of Mayor Zimmer’s disjointed diatribe against the Hudson County Democratic Organization you are left with certain incontrovertible facts: At the same time Hoboken Democratic Chair Ravi Bhalla was supposed to be working to secure his committee members’ place on the HCDO line for the June Primary Election he was actually plotting a run for the General Assembly against the party," Smith said in a statement.
The HCDO slate for the 33rd District includes incumbent Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. of Hoboken, as well as Jersey City Board of Education member and Detective Sean Connors.
Bhalla's announcement to run came as somewhat of a surprise for politicos, and he does not have a running mate. On Monday, Bhalla confirmed he was running but did not wish to comment further.
In the article on PolitickerNJ, it was reported that a slate suggested by Michelle Russo, the mother of Zimmer's rival and Councilman Michael Russo, was received by the HCDO. In Zimmer's statement, she said the move is an attempt "to try and turn over the Hoboken Democratic Party to the Russo family."
Smith objected. "Simply put, Ravi Bhalla and his county committee candidates were not afforded the County Line because Ravi Bhalla chose to mount a campaign for Assembly against the party," Smith said. "There’s nothing more to it than that. The imaginary machinations and so called 'interference' involving Mayor Stack, Councilman Russo, Michele Russo and others never happened. Bhalla took himself and his allies out of contention by filing to run for Assembly against the party. Either Mayor Zimmer is complicit in this blatant, anti-Democrat attack or she’s not in control of the Hoboken Democratic Party—either way they don’t deserve the Democratic Line."
The primary election for Assembly takes place on June 7, and the general election is in November. Following redistricting,the 33rd District now includes all of Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, and a portion of Jersey City. Stay tuned to HudsonReporter.com as more of this story breaks. - Ray Smith