McCann's vote appeared not to come out for Manzo in the Greenville section, leading some to suspect either McCann did not call them to arms, or that his influence has faded over the last dozen years. Some conspiracy-minded souls even suggest a darker scenario, pointing out the fact that Healy's unusual upset council victory in the 2001 election was due to the fact that McCann helped orchestrate it. This conspiracy paints McCann as a deep plant in the Manzo camp who deliberately created negative campaigns in order to undermine the positive image Manzo appeared to portray. Many of these people, of course, may also offer proof of the second gunman in the John F. Kennedy assassination.
But even the more practical Manzo supporters said McCann's presence in the Manzo campaign hurt the election effort.
"Manzo should have fired him early on," one supporter said.
Manzo failed to win Ward B and West Side by the huge margins that his polling suggested he would get. Even with Freeholder Bill O'Dea churning up the campaign rhetoric on local TV for Manzo, the west side just didn't respond well enough. Part of this may have to do with former Jersey City Councilman Thomas Fricchione, who was seduced to the Healy side well before the mayoral election. O'Dea learned his craft in West Side politics as an aide to Fricchione in the 1980s, but perhaps could not outshine his guru.
"It's easy to see from this election why Fricchione was councilman and O'Dea his aide," said one exuberant Healy supporter.
Fricchione, rumored to switch back and forth, may have wheeled and dealed to get a better political position in the Healy camp, and look for Healy to offer him a possible slot as council candidate in the May election - should Mary Donnelly consider leaving. By keeping it close in Ward B, Healy was able to patch together victories in Ward A, D and C, easily overcoming Manzo.
The police unions were divided in the conflict, although initially it looked as if both the rank and file and the superiors' unions would support Healy. In the end, only the superiors did. Apparently the patrol officers wanted Healy to give up the walking beat list which would have put cops on streets beats, and Healy - who supported increased police street presence - refused.
Councilman Steve Lipski appears to have played a role in securing a Healy victory as well, serving as a kind of attack dog against Manzo while Healy could talk about issues. Of course, Lipski may have also been prodded into putting his name on the ballot for mayor by downtown interests such as Rev. Francis Schiller and other developers who seemed to have lost their way after the death of Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham last May. Indeed, the host of people congratulating Healy at Puccini's on election night might surprise you since they included defeated candidates Lipski and Flood, as well as a parade of Cunningham people, starting with his widow Sandra and Cunningham's close cadre Gene Drayon, Joe Cardwell and Bobby Jackson.
Jersey City's mayoral had statewide implications
But the Jersey City mayoral election was more than just about who would be mayor until the May election. In many ways, this was a map for the factions apparently contending for the top political spots in the county and the top elected office in the state.
While the usual political suspects did not appear to openly offer support to one candidate, talk on the street claims that state Sen. Ray Lesniak - the power behind acting Gov. Richard Codey - dished out street money for campaign workers through a Hudson County surrogate, Rudy Garcia. On the other side, some claim Rep. Bob Menendez secretly supported Manzo.
If true, it sets the stage for the gubernatorial Democratic Primary in June, with Healy likely supporting Codey's nomination while Manzo would be supporting Menendez' choice, U.S. Senator Jon Corzine.
Menendez, along with state Sen. Majority Leader Bernard Kenny, orchestrated a failed coup in August to drive out Gov. Jim McGreevey in time to put the governor's seat on the November ballot. Corzine, faced with a weakened Democratic presence in the U.S. Senate thanks to Republican victories on Nov. 2, may find more solace as governor of New Jersey. But his wavering position in the August coup and his inability to protect the U.S. Senate from Republican inroads may work against state Democrats supporting his nomination and leave him with a third strike against him.
By offering his allegiance to Codey, Healy could solidify his position as mayor to fend off challengers in the May election.
At this point, Manzo may be seeking to solidify his own position by teaming up with City Council President L. Harvey Smith to run against Healy. But whether Smith runs as the candidate or Manzo has yet to be determined. Yet you can bet that Menendez will back either one in an effort to keep hold of his position. Menendez will likely seek support from the political powers in Bayonne, Union City, and West New York.
The shift of power countywide will likely benefit state Assemblyman and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, whose organization is considered one of the most powerful in the county. Proof of this, of course, was his recent ability to fend off a proposed elected school board. But most of the public fails to understand that the Union City fight was not about whether or not Stack got to handpick candidates. His organization is strong enough to put anyone he wants in office. But what Stack cannot do if there is an elected board is keep voters from voting down the school budget yearly - which voters would likely do.
Taking over the Democratic Party in Hudson?
Reports suggest that the Healy victory was the first step in a take-over of the county Democratic Party, with some nominating County Executive Tom DeGise as the new county chairman to replace Kenny. This would be a likely scenario if Codey wins as governor in the primary next June. But DeGise, who supported Healy, deserves a lot of credit for taking a chance in defying the old power structure. Had Manzo won, Menendez would have likely called for DeGise's head, and the county would have seen O'Dea as the likely next county executive.
Matthew Amato, a long-time political observer, said the party will only come together with the cooperation of the 12 municipal mayors.
As acting mayor going into the election, Smith had a significant advantage, and might have won had he been the sole dominating African-American candidate. The candidacy of Willie Flood stole the election from Smith. Expect Healy and his supporters to amply reward Flood for her service to his campaign with support in a race against Freeholder Jeff Dublin in June.
Poor Smith seems to have been part of a series of political betrayals for which he bears no guilt. The Hudson County Democratic Organization had used Smith as its candidate against Cunningham when Cunningham was alive, then jumped to Healy against Smith and apparently got the support of Sandra Cunningham.
This column, of course, owes Healy's campaign manager Buddy Demellier an apology for underestimating the depth of his tactics. What seemed on the surface as a confused campaign became a masterful campaign of political intrigue.
Predictions for the future
This spring, look for Hoboken Councilwoman Carol Marsh to lead a ticket of united reformers in a race to take the mayoral seat in Hoboken, while her compatriot Councilman-at-Large Tony Soares runs against Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons for the Hoboken freeholder seat. (He will be running for council-at-large again this spring.) Smith will likely run for mayor against Healy in Jersey City.
Corzine will run against Codey in the Democratic Primary backed by Menendez and Kenny, both of whom would move up in their own electoral slots - Menendez to Senate and Kenny to state Senate president - if Corzine wins. If Codey wins, expect Rudy Garcia to replace Kenny in the senate and DeGise to replace Kenny as Democratic county chairman. Healy will lead a mayoral ticket that will likely carry Fricchione, and incumbent councilman Lipski as a council candidate.
Look for Manzo to get dumped from the Democratic line in the primary for state Assembly, to be replaced by Sandra Cunningham. This would leave Bayonne Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone and Manzo in the same unenviable position of running against the Democratic line. There is one small irony in all of this. Chiappone and Manzo beat then-incumbent Assemblyman Joseph Doria in the 2003 Democratic primary for assembly.
Manzo supported Doria for state Senate on Nov. 2 over Chiappone.
Healy will name Jack Beirne to head the Jersey City Department of Housing and Economic Development - Beirne (known as Gentleman Jack) played a pivotal roll in Healy's campaign.
If Bayonne Mayor and newly elected State Sen. Doria decides to take a rumored offer as president of Ramapo College, his position as mayor would likely be taken by Council President Vincent Lo Re, and his position in the Senate would go to Jersey City Councilman Peter Brennan, who worked hard for the Healy campaign.