U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez has denied any meeting between himself and West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque, even though sources claimed a meeting was scheduled, prior to Roque’s endorsing Menendez for U.S. Senate.
Whether a meeting actually happened or not is beside the point. Most savvy political people are chuckling over Roque’s blunder and describing his future in various terms “He’s done,” “He’s toast,” or “He’s the flip flop mayor.”
Some equate this to a scene from the classic film “The Godfather,” when the head of a horse was dumped into the bed of a director to influence him into making the right casting choice.
But what is being said by the more honest political brokers is that Roque’s problems come as a result of him being “too honest” and not knowing how to play the political game.
First he got hoodwinked by a statewide political pundit into endorsing Menendez’s Republican challenger, a week after he had promised Menendez the endorsement.
One of the more knowledgeable political operatives said he actually feels sorry for Roque because Roque appears to be operating out of sincerity, and is simply unschooled in how to deal with people like Menendez.
A Jersey City source that had seen Roque as a kind of Robin Hood said “Glenn Cunningham is rolling over in his grave over this.”
Glenn Cunningham was the last person to successfully stand up to Menendez.
It is very sad that mean-spirited people are making Roque out as a buffoon.
The biggest problem for Roque is that he looks like he sold out to Menendez, when apparently he did not, but this may make him look extremely bad among his own supporters, and that has the people around state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco laughing.
Many people had hoped to see a united anti-Democratic Organization that would include Roque, Sacco’s nemesis State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack and state Senator Sandra Cunningham.
The one good thing about all of this for Roque is that Menendez isn’t on the best of terms with Sacco, perhaps the most powerful person in Hudson County – and so that by selling out to Menendez even a little bit, Roque doesn’t have to give in to Sacco.
Board elections may not be tea leaves for the future
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner seems not to be in a sweat over the Board of Education election since the three new candidates are vying for the one unfilled seat, and he has said he has no preference as to which of the three is elected.
In Secaucus, many are predicting the defeat of incumbent Board of Education Trustee Tom Troyer in a race that has four candidates running for three seats. Troyer has angered teachers and parents in his defense of an unpopular superintendant. Even Mayor Michael Gonnelli has come out against him.
Secaucus lost one of its legendary figures this week with the death of former Councilman and Board of Education Trustee Robert Campanella, who was one of the mainstays of the 1980s and 1990s Democratic movement, and was best known for being one of the “Blues Brothers,” with his close friend and associate, then-Councilman Michael Grecco.
“This is really hard,” Grecco said this week. “We were very close. He was like a brother to me.”
Hoboken won’t have a war right away
In Hoboken, Democrats have come to an agreement that will extend the committee members for another year, along with Chairman Jamie Cryan and his executive committee. Assemblyman Ruben Ramos was named honorary chair.
The Democratic Committee controls a lot of funds, and in the past, it has been a center of dispute between traditional Democrats and the new breed who are largely supporters of Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
But apparently the issue was decided in the backroom of McBride’s on the west side of Hoboken saving a lot of money on both sides and a lot of door knocking.
While this may be a temporary peace considering that the city will face a school board election in November, there won’t be a heated fight in June.
HCDO endorses Gill for Payne seat
Hudson County Democratic Chairman Mark Smith seemed to be busy putting out a number of political fires last week, successfully also brokering peace among Essex, Union and Hudson counties in a move to fill the seat vacated by the death of the late Rep. Donald Payne.
The official endorsement came from the HCDO for state Sen. Nia Gill for the unexpired term and for the nomination as the Democratic candidate next fall. Payne’s seat is being contested by a number of candidates, so the HCDO endorsement will also give her the edge in the primary in June when her name will appear on the same ballot line as President Barack Obama.
Gill made an appearance in Bayonne at the Democratic Committee meeting on March 31. The district includes a significant portion of Bayonne as well as large chunks of Jersey City’s west side.
In an official HCDO release, Smith said that over the past two weeks he fielded dozens of phone calls and had many meetings with people who wanted to weigh in on the race. He had the opportunity to meet with Sen. Gill as well as Newark Council Members Ron Rice and Donald Payne, Jr. who have all expressed interest in filling the vacancy.
“I have to say that I was impressed with each of these potential candidates,” said Smith, “However, Senator Gill’s independence and admirable record of dedicated service made the choice clear.”
Smith, who was the first mayoral candidate in Bayonne history who ran and won with two female council candidates, said he has always felt that more women should be active in government.
“We have an opportunity to make history with the choices we make today,” said Smith, “By sending Senator Gill to Congress, we will be electing New Jersey’s first African American woman representative with a proven record of performance.”