This could be very bad news for Assemblyman Lou Manzo, if reports are true from members of the former Cunningham administration that Buonocore can expect to receive the endorsement of Sandra Cunningham - former mayor Glenn Cunningham's widow.
In race that currently has Acting Mayor L. Harvey Smith, Councilman Jerremiah Healy and Manzo as declared candidates, with several other minor players claiming they intend to run as well, former alliances may not matter.
Manzo, who has been riding high with the belief he would be the sole beneficiary of Cunningham supporters' votes because they had nowhere else to go, would find that the vote would be split if Buonocore enters the race. This would leave Smith and Healy to put together coalitions of other voters. Thus, the race may be closer than anyone could have guessed a week ago.
In this regard, Rev. Edward Allen becomes another candidate to siphon off of the African-American vote Manzo needs so desperately to win. The impact James Carroll's candidacy will have is anybody's guess.
Campaigning has already started in earnest in August despite the usual habit for politics to take the summer off and start after Labor Day. During the first weekend in August, Manzo and his troop spent the dog days in grueling heat along Route 440 greeting potential voters outside supermarkets and other stores.
Smith, well-known for his hard work as a campaigner in his state Senate primary bid against Cunningham in 2003, has been making the rounds of the city, seeking to meet as many people as possible.
Healy has set up court at the Astor Bar, where he has been meeting with many of the old crowd, seeking to generate interest in his campaign. Healy's effort, however, has been hampered by the temporary loss of Jack Burns due to bypass surgery. Burns is not likely to recover sufficiently to work the magic political money machine for months. Burns' possible replacement, Suzanne Mack, reportedly took the month of August off, leaving Healy without an adequate fundraising effort until September.
Buonocore also voids Manzo's key advantage. Buonocore can raise money for his election, and challenge personal wealth Manzo brings to his campaign. Whether or not Buonocore can legally raise money while employed as a police chief is a question that Manzo and others will likely raise in a court challenge. The police chief, however, will likely take a leave of absence from his job and resign if he is elected in November.
This race is between Smith and Manzo, Jones says
Roger Jones, Smith's chief of staff, claimed prior to the Buonocore report that Smith would win the race against Manzo.
"This is between Harvey and Lou," he said, discounting Healy despite Healy's rumored support from high-ups in Hudson County Government.
Jones said Smith, who is African-American, would get support from the African-American community despite a past misinformation campaign against Smith.
"This is about character," Jones said. "Harvey has character. He has helped many people over the years, and those people will vote for him."
Jones also discounted the traditional concept of endorsements, saying that well-known names in the community might support this or that candidate, but not reflect what the people of the city want, nor measure the support people will give to Smith once in the voting booth.
Just why Acting State Senator and Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria showed up at Smith's announcement for mayor is still a question in many people's mind. Doria is still close to County Executive Tom DeGise, and members of DeGise's administration are supporting Healy.
DeGise is gambling a lot in his support of Healy. Some Democrats in North Hudson have been grumbling over South Hudson's control over County Government. Since the foundation of the county executive form of government in the late 1970s, only people from Jersey City and Bayonne have served as the county executive. Some political people - perhaps West New York Freeholder Sal Vega - think it is time North Hudson got its shot.
Out of sight, out of mind?
As for Doria, he may keep the peace in the Jersey City mayoral race by raising money for both Healy and Smith in order to avoid taking a side in yet another Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) split. After all, Doria will have to work with Smith or Healy if either wins.
Doria, of course, could have another motive. With his election for state Senate set for the same day as the Jersey City mayoral, Doria may simply want to duck out of the way, let all the attention get focused in Jersey City, and not generate any issues that could help his opponent or opponents.
Although some Cunningham supporters hold out hope that Sandra Cunningham will run for state Senate in the 31st District against Doria, one person very close to Sandra claims she has decided not to run for mayor or senator. This may be the gist of conversation between Cunningham loyalist Gene Drayton and State Sen. Majority Leader Bernard Kenny when they met last week.
Although some members of the Cunningham organization have already hooked up with Karen DeSoto in the state senate campaign against Doria, reports suggest that Sandra will likely support a Willie Flood candidacy instead.
Flood, unfortunately, has not been feeling well. But she has always been a trooper when it came to supporting the political cause, and if asked, she will likely do whatever Sandra wants.
Another very silent force in the mayoral race is Rep. Bob Menendez, whose taste of glory at the National Democratic Convention in Boston in late July may have made him impatient with local politics and unwilling to risk offending colleagues in the House of Representatives. He faces an election next January for chairmanship of the House Democratic Caucus.
Tidbits from around the county
Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell seems to have mended fences with his one-time political ally, Independent Councilman John Bueckner. Elwell's appointing of Bueckner to head a committee to establish a town museum seems a sign of peace. Elwell and Bueckner have feuded since 1999 when Elwell ran as a Democrat in the mayoral primary. This family feud was for a time very bitter, although it never got beyond a point of potential reconciliation.
In another part of the county, should Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner be worried?
During a visit to Jersey City in late July, Gov. Jim McGreevey apparently joked with a Weehawken student about how controlling Turner is.
"You really have to get a new mayor," McGreevey said. "Your mayor is so controlling that during a re-enactment of the Burr and Hamilton duel, your mayor told Hamilton when to die."