The exit of Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin spells one more possible opportunity to expand Republican influence in Hudson County.
Who replaces Tabakin will show just how close a relationship Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has forged with Republican Gov. Christopher Christie – who helped bail Hoboken out when Zimmer fast-tracked the sale of Hoboken University Medical Center.
Recently, several state newspapers have pointed to the increase in business given to law firms connected with Christie, and it may be interesting to watch if such appointments as corporation counsel will be the Zimmer Administration’s payback for the political favors of the past.
You have to wonder if appointments such as Quentin Wiest to the post of the city’s business administrator are part of a pattern of bringing into Hoboken a Republican administration more native to suburban New Jersey than traditionally blue collar Hudson County.
The trouble with bloggers?
Meanwhile, old issues concerning Hoboken’s bloggers rose again after a brief hiatus – especially regarding the use of allegedly Nazi imagery in regards to political enemies. Although Zimmer-supporting bloggers have been accused most often of using such images, they refute these claims, saying that a video available on YouTube was never posted on one blogger’s website, despite so-called screen shots that depicted it there. Another blogger, who was accused of using Nazi images in an attack on Councilwoman Beth Mason two years ago, countered the question by asking why this issue has resurfaced – suggesting that Mason, who is gearing up for a possible run for state Assembly, is seeking to discredit the bloggers in a preemptive attack.
This blogger said the latest attacks against pro-Zimmer bloggers came just after a mock posting in late March depicting Mason with a Pinocchio nose running for state Assembly.
Although the posting of a Nazi video depicting Mason and Councilman Michael Russo is in question– a video based on an original parody video called “The Downfall” and used by a number of comedy venues, including the Jay Leno Show – pro-Zimmer bloggers say the video was used last year against pro-Zimmer people first.
On April 26, 2011, a similar video was posted on YouTube against Zimmer-backed Kids First candidates who had run for the Board of Education.
A day later, another version was posted picturing Hitler and the Cake Boss, and mentioning Zimmer ally Michael Lenz eating icing from a belly button. A third video released on May 10 again went after the Kids First team.
A day later, on May 11, 2011, the Mason/Russo version appeared on the internet, and whether this was actually posted by pro-Zimmer bloggers on local sites has yet to be verified.
How much influence bloggers on either side have is questionable, although Hoboken is one of the most web-savvy communities in Hudson County.
Gearing up for upcoming elections
The Malibu Diner in Hoboken became the central meeting place for the anti-Zimmer coalition last week as Mason, Frank Raia, Russo, Jamie Cryan and others gathered to work out what candidates they will back in the fall school board elections. Raia will be a strong advocate for the ticket, insiders say, but he will not be on it, keeping his options open for a possible run against Zimmer next May.
While this was going on, powerful Union County state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who appears to be developing a closer relationship with the Zimmer administration, walked in.
“It looked like he saw a ghost,” one of the participants said.
Menendez backs Payne for 10th Congressional seat
In a release issued late on last week, U. S. Sen. Robert Menendez endorsed Donald Payne, Jr. for Congress in a hotly contested 10th congressional district that includes a large portion of Jersey City and Bayonne, praising “his strength of character and his experience to stand up to the House Republicans and their Tea Party allies.”
Already seen as the power behind the Payne for Congress movement that has won endorsements from other powerful political people in Hudson County including Jersey City Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop, Menendez enthusiastically endorsed Payne to fill the seat vacated by Payne’s father’s death earlier this year.
This move comes at a time when Hudson County is already split between candidates that include Newark Councilman Ronald Rice Jr. who is also seeking this seat, and State Senator Nia Gill, who is backed by the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
HCDO Chairman Mark Smith, and both state Assemblymen from the 31st Assembly District, Jason O’Donnell and Charles Mainor, have all come out in support of Gill. State Sen. Sandra Cunninghman, a close ally to Lesniak, will likely support Gill as well. Some expect Jersey City Mayor Jeramiah Healy to announce for Gill, and Menendez’s move puts him at odds also with Lesniak, who is reportedly behind the Gill for Congress movement.
Menendez noted that he rarely endorses in special elections, but he explained, “The stakes in Washington are higher than ever. While the extreme Republicans in Congress look to turn the clock back on families, on women and on seniors, Donald Payne, Jr. will be an unwavering advocate for the people here presents. Donald has the strength of character and the experience to stand up to the House Republicans and their Tea Party allies.”
Jack Butchko, a former vice chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Party, has also endorsed Payne in a newly created district that includes larger portions of Jersey City and nearly half of Bayonne.
“Congressman Donald Payne Sr. was a favorite of both President Obama and President Bill Clinton,” said Butchko, who served U.S. Senator John Glenn of Ohio and U.S. Representative Frank Guarini of New Jersey. “His son, Donald Payne Jr. Has already compiled a distinguished record by serving the best interests of working people and senior citizens on both the local and county levels of government. He is equally committed to serving the best interests of the people of Bayonne in the United States Congress.”