Rep. Albio Sires has absolutely refuted speculation that he will not be running for reelection to the House of Representatives, pointing out he is holding a fundraiser in Jersey City later this month. This hasn’t stopped speculation about it, or new variations of who will run in Sires’ place if the political bosses have their way.
This week two versions of the same story emerged. Both say state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco is conspiring to unseat Sires and have state Assemblyman Ruben Ramos take Sires’ place on the ticket.
Sacco people dismissed this notion as “utterly ridiculous.” They question whether there is any real break between Ramos and state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, a Sacco arch-enemy, whom Ramos would leave behind if he sought the higher office.
“Ramos voted for nearly everything Stack asked him to vote for except for the [state] budget,” one person said. “How can that be a reason for them to split?”
Stack has alienated some of his fellow Democrats because of his close relationship with Republican Gov. Christopher Christie. But while this might make him a poor Democrat in the eyes of some of his fellow Hudson County politicians, Stack may be riding the only horse he has.
Unlike other North Hudson municipalities, Union City is devoid of significant development opportunities and therefore without new tax ratables on the horizon. The $13 million in state aid his city gets from the generous pocketbook of Christie’s private “Christmas Tree” fund helps keep the city afloat. All Stack has to do is promote and support Christie’s agenda.
Another version of the Sacco-Stack conflict and the plot to unseat Sires concerns a supposed letter that West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque wrote thanking Christie and Stack for their support.
Some claim the letter was written at the urging of Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, who also serves as Sires’ chief of staff. In their version, Roque showed the letter expressing his gratitude to Stack to Sacco, who allegedly flipped out about it.
The letter as originally drafted was never issued, and a different letter that went out with the tax bills did not mention Christie at all.
But one report said that Sacco allegedly held this letter against Turner and Sires, even though in this version, Sires was unaware of the letter.
A slightly different version of the story said the plot to dump Sires was hatched after a poll suggested that had Sires backed then-incumbent West New York Mayor Sal Vega against Roque in the last election, Vega – a Sacco ally – would have won.
Fueling these conspiracy theories was the scheduled meeting between bigwigs this week that supposedly included Sacco, Stack, Turner and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise at which the fate of the Sires’ seat was supposed to be decided.
Most political observers believe Ramos cannot win in a primary against Sires, especially with a $5,200 political donation in regards to the Hoboken University Hospital sale hanging around his neck like an albatross. Ramos apparently took the campaign donation from people associated with the hospital buyers, and he sponsored legislation that would get state funds to cover some of the operating finances until the sale of the hospital can take place.
“Ruben was much too close with [former Hoboken Mayor Peter] Cammarano, and this contribution may even keep him from running for mayor,” said one source, saying that the most likely candidates to face off against Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer – if she even runs for reelection in 2013 (Dave Mello is looking more and more like a mayoral candidate every day) – will be those who can self-finance their elections such as Frank Raia, Councilwoman Beth Mason, and Freeholder Anthony Romano.
The Sacco meeting
Sacco’s political meeting did take place, but one source said Stack did not attend. Instead, Turner, Sacco, and DeGise were scheduled to meet with Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith. Smith was once rumored to be gunning for Sires’ seat as well, fueling speculation that he would step into Sires’ seat if the congressman stepped down.
This is the rumor that aroused speculation that Smith would then step down as mayor of Bayonne as soon as next month, a rumor he has continued to deny. Insiders claim that Smith may instead become the Democratic candidate for county executive after DeGise concludes his next term in 2014, which would coincide with the end of Smith’s term as mayor.
The meeting involved county support for Weehawken’s proposed purchase of the United Water reservoir. DeGise apparently liked the idea, but he, Sacco, and Smith wanted assurances from Turner that he was going to remain loyal to the Hudson County Democratic Organization, and would keep Roque in the Democratic camp as well.
Roque, who won without HCDO support, may feel he doesn’t need them – something that remains a sticking point.
Meanwhile, Smith, angered at this column’s speculation about his possibly stepping down, claimed in his own column published in the Bayonne Community News that this column invented the rumor. Between the Lines suggested Smith take a walk around town to listen to what is being said in his own community. Recently, during a recorded call to residents over applying for FEMA funds, Smith concluded his message by saying, “See you around town.”
Will Sandy run for mayor?
Some people close to state Sen. Sandra Cunningham claim that she intends to run for mayor of Jersey City in 2013 in an attempt to continue the legacy of her deceased husband, Mayor Glenn Cunningham.
Some polls suggest that she would win, but many political observers wonder why she would trade a great gig as a state senator for the headache of being mayor.
Meanwhile, the special election for two at-large City Council seats taking place this November features more than a dozen candidates.
Some hardcore Democratic people are concerned that Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop might fail to openly support any candidates in the race, leaving the door open to incumbent council people Ray Velazquez and Kalimah Ahmad, who Mayor Jerramiah Healy is backing.
“What if Healy’s candidates win? Will Healy be encouraged to run for reelection?” this one source said. “Nobody wants Healy to run, except maybe some of his relatives.”
Reports suggest that he is backing Suzanne Mack, a member of the Board of Education, and will likely back Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson who is making the leap from a ward to an at-large seat.