Some people are speculating about something that a year ago would have been unthinkable: a possible coalition ticket between Mayor Dawn Zimmer and factions once considered her staunchest opponents, including Councilwoman Beth Mason.
This may all be the equivalent of fantasy baseball, with factions of what once might have been called Old Hoboken deciding to work with Zimmer because one of their own, Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, has decided to launch his own ticket to oppose Zimmer in November when many did not want him to.
Speculation was that Frank Raia might run a third ticket that would guarantee Zimmer a victory anyway, splitting the opposition vote. Zimmer has a relatively weak council-at-large slate going into the November election. Under this coalition theory, she might choose to make peace with her former enemies rather than find herself in the unenviable position of losing control of the council.
Raia, however, has been talking to Union City mayor and state Sen. Brian Stack about running for the state Assembly in the place vacated by Ramos – an enticing offer because anybody who runs with Stack will win in that district. But does Raia want it?
This would bring Stack the revenues he needs, and could possibly give him enough capital to go after his arch enemy, state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, who may be losing clout countywide as Stack supporters pressure the Hudson County Democratic Organization to support Stack and State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, rather than Sacco.
This is a nightmare situation for HCDO Chairman Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, whose old ties to Sacco are strained, but not broken. His need for additional funding to balance his municipal budget may influence his political judgment.
This year is the last large payment from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for purchase of a portion of the former Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne. This piece of land has been a gold mine for filling budget gaps since about 2005, a gold mine that will tap out next year.
Stack’s ties to Republican Gov. Christopher Christie could come in handy when Smith is forced to go hat in hand for help with the budget. But will Smith go so far as to betray Sacco to do it?
Stack tightens ties to Roque
With the appointment of Mario Blanch as assistant municipal attorney in West New York – he is a member of the anti-Sacco Concerned Citizens of North Bergen – Stack has tightened his alliance with troubled West New York Mayor Felix Roque, whose administration is under siege by legal problems and a proposed recall election.
While stouthearted Roque appears ready to fight charges that he was allegedly involved in the hacking of a political opponent’s website, he is also faced with eroding support from former allies, and he has been accused of buying off those who would seek to work against him with jobs, promotions, or contracts. Meanwhile, Commissioner Count Wiley has had a series of fundraisers in anticipation of his recall attempt against Roque, and has introduced candidates for the city commission that seem to cover a wide range of the city, including the waterfront, which in the past has largely refrained from involvement in local elections.
Wiley isn’t the only candidate looking to take a bite out of Roque. Former West New York Mayor Sal Vega appears to be interested in getting his old job back and has apparently been seeking powerful people outside West New York for support, such as Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop.
There are polls and then there are polls
Jersey City is awash in political polls trying to determine how candidates are doing citywide as well as ward by ward. Two months from the May election, Mayor Jerramiah Healy and most of his candidates appear to be holding their own, and – if you believe his supporters – may actually be leading by one to five percentage points.
Healy apparently did a poll. So apparently did Fulop. And there was poll allegedly conducted on behalf of Gov. Christopher Christie.
Fulop’s strongest, at least best known, candidates are Assemblyman Sean Connors, Councilman Rolando Lavarro, and Councilwoman Nidia Lopez. But Connors and Lopez may not bring Fulop votes even if they win, partly because of all the ill will the Fulop camp engendered with their followers in the past. Fulop even tried to keep Lopez from being seated, and the conflicts between Connors and Fulop are equally notorious.
If Cunningham comes out for Healy as expected, Fulop will have to spend a lot of resources in the southern portion of the city, and with Dan Levin running on the Healy ticket in Fulop’s home ward, Fulop can’t even take that for granted. Ward F, Ward D, and Ward C are seen as tossup council races.
Healy’s fundraiser earlier this week brought out about 800 people at about $150 a head. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed to Healy but did not attend.
School board elections
Fulop will have to pay some attention to the April school board election in Jersey City, but can’t afford to be distracted by it, since his participation in past school board election has become a campaign issue in his mayoral bid.
Known for being able to muster his forces to work hard for candidates, Fulop may be less of a force in this year’s school race when he is busy getting his council candidates elected. In the past, the school board race has been something a test run for his political organization, this year it might be an albatross around its neck.
Meanwhile, the Secaucus school board election is already creating some controversy. Maryann Weiner said she is running for reelection, but not as part of a ticket with Trustee Sal Manente and former Trustee Tom Troyer.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.