Of the five candidates vying to take the seat vacated by former Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon, the conflict seems to have settled into a groove of two. Can former Jersey City Mayor Gerry McCann eke out votes from his former power base to overcome the lackadaisical Democratic machine counted on to get votes out for Radames Velazquez?
While Deputy Mayor Anthony Cruz has received the often-disguised support of Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, a divided Latino vote - much reduced from previous years due to redistricting - may prove to be his undoing. Juanita Lopez, a community activist, might steal away that margin of votes Cruz needs to slip into office.
Meanwhile McCann may find himself hampered by other, more fundamental changes that have taken place in Jersey City Heights. In the past, he could count on the Western Slope, but a casual walk down Liberty or Terrace avenues reveals many more signs for the Democratic mainstream than for McCann.
Republican Carl Czaplicki, Cunningham's aide, might well divide the vote in the Heights, leaving Velazquez the winner - although a last-minute endorsement by former Jersey City Mayor Anthony Cucci could give Cruz a critical block of votes to push him over the edge. This would leave Velazquez to label McCann a convicted felon and McCann to question Velazquez's residency in a pointless exchange of name-calling.
A slingshot away from Trenton?
In the 33rd state legislative district, Assemblyman Rafael Fraguela, who switched parties after the Hudson County Democratic Organization dumped him from its ticket in favor of Union City Mayor Brian Stack, is leading the attack as a Republican and seeking to unseat incumbent state Sen. Bernard Kenny.
This is one of the few David and Goliath stories that could live up to its Biblical potential, depending whether or not Fraguela's slingshot full of anti-corruption comments can resonate with the voters. Fraguela and his runningmates Jose Munoz and Elise DiNardo of Weehawken are running against a culture of corruption, struggling hard to tie the current Democratic machine into the 2002 guilty plea by former County Executive Robert Janisewski.
This will be a tough row to hoe since Kenny is majority leader in the Senate and his runningmate Assemblyman Albio Sires is the speaker of the Assembly. And with Stack - a well-established Union City reformer - on the ticket, Democrats may have the cache they need to keep control.
The Green Party has Maria Rios of Hoboken as their Assembly candidate.
No dice, Doria
An appeal disputing the June Democratic primary results in the 31st District will not be heard until after the Nov. 4 election.
Living up to the old adage that you are a loser only if you fail to try, Assembly incumbents Bayonne Mayor Joseph V. Doria Jr. and Elba Perez-Cinciarelli, and Jersey City Council President L. Harvey Smith, who lost the primary for Senate, had tried, tried and tried again, only to succeed in losing at every turn. Cunningham and former Freeholder Lou Manzo and Bayonne Councilman Anthony Chiappone won the Democratic nomination, a decision the HCDO has appealed every since. The only modicum of success came when Cunningham so irritated the Hudson County Democratic Organization with his rantings against County Executive Tom DeGise that DeGise and the Democrats voted to send Smith to Trenton until the January ceremony swears in the new state senator (most likely to be Cunningham).
Doria and company lost the primary, then lost the recount, and then lost in their Superior Court Challenge. When they tried to take the case to the state Supreme Court, the court told them to take it to an appellate court first. Appellate Judge Michael Patrick King then told them to forget a hearing before the election and scheduled oral arguments for Dec. 17.
The fact that they will not get their additional days in court spells out the bitter end for Doria's long tenure as the surrogate of Former Bayonne Mayor Dennis Collins.
Collins' influence made the whole Bayonne peninsula into a political bastion of power that may soon crumble as a new generation makes use of his accomplishments - such as the Military Ocean Terminal development. Without Doria at the helm, MOT could shift away from the massive port construction back to mixed use.
Cunningham is expected to win easily
Cunningham, who will be facing off against Republican Carmen Mendiola and Green Party candidate Eric Olsen for 31st District State Senate, should win this one even with both hands tied behind his back.
Cunningham's allies Manzo and Chiappone are challenged by Republican candidates Donna Marie James and Stephen Schulz and Green Party candidates Jonathan Oriole and Pamela Olsen.
DeGise, who won a one-year term as county executive last year, is back at the polls this year asking voters to give him four more years. Former Republican Assemblyman Charles Catrillo is running against him, as is North Bergen's Herb Shaw. In some ways, the county executive race has lost luster as the power has shifted back to the more traditional venues prior to Janiszewski's reign. With the main event being fought elsewhere in the county, the DeGise-Catrillo bout resembles a powder puff slugfest: nice guys on both sides fighting for the trickling-down effect that the power players like Cunningham or Rep. Bob Menendez have left behind.
Democratic incumbent state Senator Nicholas Sacco, who also serves as the mayor of North Bergen, is running against Republican Louis Lusquinos Jr. of Kearny and Denis Jaslow, an independent, from North Bergen. Sacco's political machine is nearly invincible and should also help Democratic Assembly incumbents Anthony Impreveduto of Secaucus and Joan Quigley of Jersey City beat Republicans Anna Crespo-Hernandez and Delia Kelly, and independents Eric Dixon and Eugene McCrohan.
Guttenberg Councilman Javier Inclan is cursed with being the HCDO candidate for county clerk. As the executive director of the HDCO, Inclan carries the burden of the Democratic corruption woes into this election, giving his opponent Republican Theresa DeLeon and Independent Maria Rodriguez a platform to run against him.
Independent candidate Thomas Rizzi, running for mayor of Guttenberg against incumbent Mayor David Della Donna, seems to have shot himself in the foot during a debate held at the Hudson Reporter last week. Rizzi repeated the same answers for a variety of questions, making one wonder how voters will perceive his ability to lead. Rizzi leads a ticket of council wanna-bes that include Vasilios Scoullos, Louis Lopez and Johanna Delgado while Della Donna has a slate of incumbent council members Gerald Drasheff and Adela Martinez, as well as Efrain Velez.
Hoboken's charming politics
Hoboken will see a special election to fill the 3rd Ward council seat vacated by the resignation of Councilman Anthony Russo.
Mayor Dave Roberts says he is offering unwavering support for council candidate Vincent Addeo against Russo's son, Michael Russo. Also running is former 3rd Ward Councilwoman Roseanne Andreula. Hoboken politics, of course, has its own charm, allowing Roberts to hold another press conference to announce the same new affordable housing complex (one of several such announcements) just in time for the election.
At the same time, supporters of Michael Russo managed to file a lawsuit challenging the mayor's budget just in time for the election. Could this be seen as a political act?