Sacco, mayor of North Bergen and named Number 1 on the Reporter’s list of most influential people in the county in January, is a major Democratic Party power broker, a man whose endorsement is much-coveted by those seeking political office, and whose displeasure is feared.
Roque appears to be pondering whether to challenge Sacco in next year’s Democratic primary.
“I’ve never done anything to please any politician,” Roque said Thursday. “My goal has been to be an honest Hudson County Democrat, but more importantly, an honest West New York Democrat.”
"This is what makes America a wonderful democracy,” Sacco’s spokesman Philip Swibinski said. “Everyone is free to run for office if they like. Senator Sacco is focused on fighting for positive legislative solutions that help people and isn't concerned about an election more than a year away."
Roque’s announcement follows a flurry of media reports that ran two weeks ago alleging that Roque’s medical practice, home, and West New York Town Hall were raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of an alleged probe into insurance fraud, reports which Roque says were motivated by a Hudson County political machine that is out to ruin him for being a political maverick.
In an exclusive interview, Roque told the Reporter on March 23 that although he did receive a visit from the F.B.I., none of the published allegations were true.
Why the FBI came to town
Sources close to the mayor have since revealed a bit more about the nature of the investigation. They claim the F.B.I. is allegedly looking into the possibility that Roque – more specifically, one of his two sons, who has not yet been named – may have disabled and/or hacked into a website labeled recallroque.com created by supporters of former Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega, who Roque defeated.
They also claimed that Roque’s son’s computer was confiscated.
Roque’s announcement is the latest in a series of conflicts between the mayor and the Hudson County Democratic Organization and the network of attorneys, developers and public relations professionals who depend on the HCDO for lucrative contracts.
According to Politicker.com, on Tuesday HCDO Chairman Mark Smith rejected a list of names Roque submitted for his town’s committee candidates while Sacco’s recommendations for West New York are slated for the “A-list.”
“I’ve caused a lot of friction in the north,” Roque said in another exclusive interview on Thursday. “In my opinion he’s my senator and I grant him my respect, but lately he’s been trying to take over my town.”
Because of this, Roque added, his once-rejected idea of running against Sacco in the 2013 Democratic primary for state senator has become a distinct possibility.
“I will not rule out running against Sacco in 2013, especially after the low blow he gave to myself and the people of West New York,” Roque said. “Think George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ We need a senator who will take care of everybody, not a Napoleon.”
Roque mentioned state Sen. Brian Stack (D-33), a long time rival of Sacco’s, as an example he’d be pleased to follow.
For more details, read today’s issue of the West New York Reporter. – Gennarose Pope