Sacco and his two Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) runningmates, incumbent assemblypeople Joan Quigley of Jersey City and Vincent Prieto of Secaucus, obliterated their opposition in Tuesday's Democratic primary in the 32nd District, winning by a margin of more than 5 to 1.
They beat out a Jersey City policeman, a Secaucus town activist and a political newcomer from North Bergen. This year, there were several heated Democratic primaries in Hudson County because two warring Democratic factions competed for the seats. The longstanding HCDO faced a new organization, the Democrats for Hudson County, led by Union City Mayor and 33rd District Assemblyman Brian Stack. While Stack won his own district, the Democrats for Hudson County lost out in other districts to the HCDO. They represent Secaucus, North Bergen
The 32nd District represents North Bergen, Secaucus, Kearny, Harrison, East Newark, parts of Jersey City, and parts of Fairview. Sacco, who has been a state senator since 1994, trounced opponent Sean Connors, a Jersey City police detective who was running with the Stack-led ticket, by more than 10,000 votes. With 99 percent of the total vote counted by Wednesday, not including absentee votes, Sacco had 12,936 votes compared to 2,472 for Connors. Sacco will face Republican candidate John Pluchino in the general election in November, but the general election in Hudson County is never a serious threat to the Democratic nominees, as Dems outnumber Republicans in the County by 5 to 1. In the Assembly, seats were retained by Prieto, who is a construction code official in Secaucus, and Quigley, a hospital spokeswoman. They faced challenges from Secaucus town activist Tom Troyer and political newcomer Marissa Suarez of North Bergen. The numbers were: Quigley, 12,966 votes; Prieto, 12,840 votes; Troyer, 1,809 votes, and Marissa Suarez of North Bergen, 1,799. Prieto, who was first appointed to the state Assembly in 2004 and won election for the first time in 2005, felt confident that he would gain re-election. "I was confident that we did a good job representing the people well and that we were going to get good support," said Prieto. "We received a lot of positive feedback from the people. We did a lot of walking around the area, especially in my hometown of Secaucus. I have a lot of experience in Secaucus and knew that the people respected me." "I didn't expect anything like this," said Quigley, who was first elected to the state Assembly in 1993 when she ran with Sacco. "It's the largest plurality we've ever had. With all the heated campaigns going on throughout the county, the people of our district reacted so positively and showed their support for us. Our hard work didn't get lost in the shuffle." Dominated in hometown
In his hometown of North Bergen, Sacco dominated, collecting nearly 9,000 votes compared to fewer than 500 for Connors. "I always said that nothing would ever come close to what we got in 1993, getting 7,500 votes," Sacco said. "I said that history could never repeat itself. But for us to get in the 9,000 vote range in North Bergen is astronomical. I'm just so proud of the people who worked so hard for me. They showed me that they are satisfied with the job I'm doing and they wanted me to remain as their senator." Sacco also said that he was grateful for the mayors who supported him and his running mates. "They all made sure that the people in their towns got out and supported the HCDO ticket," Sacco said. "Not just myself, Joan Quigley and Vinnie Prieto, but for Tom DeGise and the entire ticket. They all knew how important this election was countywide. We had to make sure that the others won as well. They all came out so strongly in support of us." Sacco said that he was grateful that both Quigley and Prieto gained re-election. "Joan Quigley has been my partner in Trenton since 1994 and we will continue to work well together," Sacco said. "She has shown terrific leadership throughout that time. Vinnie has been a tremendous addition to the team and he works well with us." Dual positions
Connors had complained that Sacco holds more than one office. Besides being state senator, he is a mayor and an administrator in the schools. "It tells me that the issue of having dual elected positions is not an issue here," Sacco said. "I've been saying that for a long time, that it really doesn't matter and in fact, helps the residents." Challenges ahead in the legislature - and in politics
Sacco said that there are a lot of challenges ahead in the state Senate, especially the transportation committee issues - a committee of which Sacco is chairman. "There are things we have to focus on right away," Sacco said. "There are road improvements, state highway improvements, the transportation fund needs to find a permanent source. We have a lot of work to do." Quigley said that there is a challenge now to unite the Democratic contingent from Hudson County, because some were elected from the HCDO and others were elected from the Democrats from Hudson County ticket. "No matter where we started, we all represent Hudson County," said Quigley, who will have seniority among the Assembly members from Hudson County. "We have to make sure it's a united delegation. With six members, we have power. It's my goal to get everyone together." Although he's only served one full term and the final year of an unexpired term, Prieto will be second in seniority come November. "It's kind of amazing when you think of it that way," Prieto said. "Normally, you don't think of getting to seniority so quickly. But I look forward to the challenge of working together with the other Hudson County Assembly members." Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org