After a two-hour session in Bayonne City Hall last week, 3rd Ward Councilman Ray Greaves assured supporters of Mayor Mark Smith that he is not running an alternative ticket against Smith in the May 2014 municipal election.
Greaves then took a shot at the current leadership of the Hudson County Democratic Organization and Tom Bartoli, a key aide to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, blaming both for spreading misinformation about him to columnists of local newspapers.
When asked to respond, Bartoli said, “We met about running, and we have the emails to prove it.”
For more than a month, Greaves has been at the forefront of a possible campaign, although a number of opposition leaders in Bayonne said they would not support Greaves even in opposition to Smith. Much of the information about Greaves’ plans came from people close to him, not Fulop.
One rumor suggested a possible ticket that would have united former Councilman Gary LaPelusa with Greaves, something LaPelusa also said will never happen.
Fulop people are apparently vexed with Smith over his support for ousted mayor Jerramiah Healy over Fulop, after Smith’s people supposedly gave reassurance that he would stay out of the Jersey City election.
Many believe that Smith’s chief political advisor, Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, will not get the Democratic line when he runs again for Assembly in 2015, and that Fulop is willing to help support an anti-Smith ticket in Bayonne.
The conversations with Greaves, Bartoli said, were with that aim.
“But he was clearly nervous, and anyone who wants to run for mayor should really want it, and not have to be talked into it,” Bartoli said.
The talk with Greaves came at a time when Smith has just committed to running for reelection.
Some believe that the sudden appearance of Smith and O’Donnell on the streets in August suggested that they might be starting an early campaign.
“This is not political,” O’Donnell said. “We did this last summer on a smaller scale. We’re just getting out into the community to find out what people’s concerns are.”
For Greaves, the alleged flip-flop could cost him his political career, since a number of his key people had also been urging him to run for mayor.
No one can be sure if Smith will invite Greaves back on his ticket next May, although who Smith will get to replace Greaves is a bigger question.
This bodes well for LaPelusa, who is considering a return run – although he hasn’t yet made up his mind if he will run for his old 3rd Ward seat or take the leap of faith to run for mayor.
Mayor Gonnelli endorses Christie
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli is the latest to become a member of what many people are calling the Christiecrats – Democrats who have endorsed the Republican governor in his reelection bid. To be fair, Gonnelli did not take this road alone. His entire Town Council joined him after a meeting with Christie at Legend’s Diner in Secaucus.
Gonnelli technically is not a Democratic mayor, even though he has a long association with the Democratic Party. He ran as an Independent.
Although Secaucus has always had a Republican Party, Independents have generally ruled the roost there. Former Mayor Paul Amico ran as an Independent from his start around 1960 and maintained that role even when Democrats took a foothold in the early 1980s.
Gonnelli ran and was elected as an Independent, following the Amico tradition. Secaucus has had a long tradition of bucking the Democratic trend especially in elections involving governor and president.
But some see the recent endorsement as hypocritical. Secaucus Republican Tom Troyer claimed that Christie did not receive a very warm welcome two years ago when he came to visit the Secaucus schools.
“I like the governor for wanting to hold people accountable, but he shouldn’t be going after teachers, he should be going after the politics behind the school district’s decisions,” Troyer said. “But this year, we have a mayor and council posing for pictures with the governor when two years ago they stayed silent when many board members were attacking him.”
Show the money?
Some political people still on the fence about the upcoming municipal election in Hoboken have told the money brokers to come up with money for a third ticket or shut up about it.
Former Schools Trustee Frank Raia and Councilwoman Beth Mason are supposedly still hoping to fund an alternate ticket to those running with Mayor Dawn Zimmer or her only announced opponent, Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, despite the lack of anyone else willing to run for mayor.
The theory would be that a viable ticket would include Raia, Democratic Chairman Jamie Cryan, and possibly Carla Katz as council candidates, in order to steal one of the City Council seats away from the pro and anti-Zimmer factions and become a power-brokering deciding vote, able to negotiate with both sides.
Zimmer is likely running with incumbents Ravi Bhalla and David Mello, and the unfortunate and yet to be seated councilman Jim Doyle. Mello is seen as vulnerable.
Ramos is running with a competent but lackluster ticket that includes Joe Mindak, Laura Miani, and Eduardo Gonzalez.
The anti-Zimmer people are divided, with some so far unwilling to support Ramos against her. But some of these people like the idea of backing a ticket that could steal control of the council and make a Zimmer victory moot, allowing the council to move ahead with its own agenda.
Yet, support for a third party hinges on opening a campaign account, one that isn’t controlled totally by Raia and Mason.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.