With the outcome of the presidential election still in doubt, Hudson County voters overwhelming supported Democratic candidates on every level, helping John Kerry take New Jersey. Voters in never every town in the county gave huge margins to Kerry and local Democratic candidates for House of Representatives - Bob Menendez in the 13th District, Steve Rothman in the 9th, and Donald Payne in 10th District.
Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria - who was serving as interim state Senator in the 31st District - won his bid to fill the expired term of former state Sen. Glenn Cunningham, who died of a heart attack last May.
Also swept back into office by huge margins were Hudson County Sheriff Joseph Cassidy and County Surrogate Judge Donald DeLeo.
Districtwide, Doria overwhelmed Chiappone by more than a three-to-one margin, although in Bayonne, Chiappone showed remarkable strength in each voting district.
Doria received 30,346 votes while Chiappone received 9,760. The two Jersey City challengers in the race, John Watson and Kabili Tayari, both finished with under 3,000 votes each.
"Senator Doria was swept in by the Kerry landslide in Jersey City," said state Sen. Bernard Kenny of Hoboken, who also serves as the Hudson County Democratic chairman.
Former Bayonne Mayor Dennis Collins called Doria "the comeback kid," but Doria credited his supporters and blasted his opponent for negative campaigning.
"This proves you can run a positive campaign, running on issues like crime, education, and affordable housing," Doria said. "We don't need to do negative campaigning, lies, or distortions. That doesn't work. And we'll stay positive. We wanted to talk about the issues because people care about them, not about negative things."
Huge voter turnout
Bayonne Freeholder Barry Dugan said Bayonne saw the highest turnout of voters in more than 15 years.
"There were a lot of young people involved," he said. "Many of them voted column A for the Democrats."
Bayonne, however, came out for Kerry by only a two-to-one margin, unlike other parts of the county.
County-wide, voters exceeded 200,000, or 56.6 percent of the registered voters. By comparison, Kenny pointed to the 1960 presidential election between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy that brought 64 percent of Hudson County's registered voters to the polls.
Kerry beat Bush in the county by 113,603 to 55,530, as of Wednesday. Kerry's numbers, Kenny said, tended to reject the Republican argument that people would vote for Bush because of Sept. 11. He said that the most impacted parts of the country, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut had come out for Kerry, and that Hoboken, with the largest number of victims from the attack, showed overwhelming support for Kerry.
Kenny said the new voting machines seemed to work well throughout the county, though he could speak directly only for those at the Hoboken districts where he had spent the day as a volunteer.
Joseph Ryan, a mayoral aide in Bayonne, said some voters forgot to press the red button to record the vote.
Democrats swept Hudson
Menendez took more than 77 percent of the vote in the 13th District, with 74,129 votes. Menendez took more than 77 percent of the vote in the 13th District, with 74,129 votes. His opponents received the following: Richard Piatkowski, 222,674; Dick Hester, 930; Herbert Shaw, 618; Angela Lariscy, 679.
Rothman, whose district covers all of Secaucus, Kearny and North Bergen and a portion of Jersey City, took 68 percent of the Hudson vote, beating two Bergen County candidates. Hudson voters gave Rothman nearly 20,000 votes towards his re-election bid.
Payne, whose district covers a portion of Bayonne and Jersey City, beat two candidates in Essex County. Pumped up by the huge Kerry victory throughout the county, Sheriff Cassidy beat Republican challenger Alexander Garcia by 96,885 to 38,782. County Surrogate DeLeo beat challengers Johanna DelGado and Vasilious Scoullos, attaining 72 percent of the vote.
Menendez, who had campaigned for Kerry throughout the conflicted areas of the country, held out hope during the election night Hudson celebrations that Kerry would prevail.
Election night, Menendez promised to work with the new mayor of Jersey City, Jerramiah Healy, to heal the wounds of the Democratic Party in Hudson County.
Jeff Dublin was elected to the freeholder from the 3rd District in Jersey City, beating his opponent Ronnie Meadows by 10,784 to 1,608. Dublin, who was named earlier this year to fill a vacancy on the board, will face re-election nest year. Union City Freeholder Tilo Rivas won without opposition in the 6th District, gaining 99.82 percent of the vote, and will also face re-election next year.
Attending the celebrations in Bayonne were not only the winning candidates Menendez, Doria, DeLeo and Cassidy, but also Assembly Speaker and West New York Mayor Albio Sires, Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny, Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, Freeholder Chairman Sal Vega, Freeholder Barry Dugan, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, and others.