Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto admits that he is padding his wallet as a consultant for South Jersey Democratic warlords while serving as Hudson County Democratic chairman. Nothing wrong with holding a side job, but the fact that he is cavorting with politicos who will soon be supporting a political adversary to Mayor Steven Fulop’s gubernatorial aspirations is – or should be – a problem for Hudson County Democrats. Fulop has not formally announced his plan to run for governor, but now he already knows he will not be able to count on the leader of his party in Hudson County for support.
Normally, having the speaker of the state Assembly in Hudson County is a good thing, because the speaker usually controls the political fundraising apparatus. But this is not true with Prieto, who has handed over that operation to South Jersey political boss George Norcross – and Norcross will support state Sen. Steven Sweeney for governor, not Fulop.
So this is a double bang against Fulop, who cannot count on the backing of Prieto when the governor’s primary starts, and won’t have access to party money he should be entitled to.
Prieto, of course, is being considered for a seat in the House of Representatives if and when Rep. Albio Sires relinquishes the seat, but there may be some rethinking by local power brokers after this.
Who exactly is running for county executive anyway?
Former Bayonne Councilman Ray Greaves has been making the political rounds after his close loss in the municipal runoff in June. Some believe that he may be trying to land somewhere else – perhaps replace County Executive Tom DeGise, or maybe offering his ability to raise union money to some other political candidate in exchange for some elected position.
Greaves was once offered support to run for mayor of Bayonne against then-Mayor Mark Smith – and backed out of the deal when Smith confronted him. Later, he was offered a slot as freeholder candidate with the support of current Mayor James Davis, and declined this as well. There aren’t a lot of seats left for him to consider, unless he is thinking of also getting in the race for the Assembly seat currently occupied by Jason O’Donnell. But this is a crowded field since newly-elected Bayonne Councilman Juan Perez is looking to unseat O’Donnell in next year’s Democratic primary. Most likely, however, Nicholas Chiaravalloti will get the backing of Davis and a lot of county Democrats.
As for county executive, even Freeholder Bill O’Dea has gotten the message that DeGise may be too popular to beat, and appears to be rethinking his career path, and may even have his eye on the other state Assembly seats in the 31st District.
O’Dea may even be waiting to see if he can slip into the still-warm seat of Jersey City mayor if and when Fulop vacates it to become governor.
Meanwhile, there appears to be a movement to draft state Sen. Sandra Cunningham into the race. If she decides to run, you can bet that state Senator and Union City mayor Brian Stack will take back his DeGise endorsement – although DeGise and Stack seem to be working closely on a number of projects. So nothing may come of the Cunningham draft movement in the end.
Can Fulop do what other Jersey City mayors could not do?
Fulop would be the fourth Jersey City mayor to seek to become governor, following in the footsteps of Paul Jordan, Tommy Smith, and Bret Schundler. Each thought they could put together enough votes in urban districts to overcome the suburban and rural Democratic enclaves in the primary. Fulop, however, seems to have built a solid base with the three biggest cities in the state, and may succeed where the previous mayors failed. Fulop went to Sussex County recently to support Democratic candidates in the heart of rural New Jersey, hoping to foster support among down and out Democrats far from the urban center.
Of course, Hudson County Republicans can’t be counted out since they are also rebuilding and with the increase of suburban dwellers relocated in Hoboken and Jersey City, they may have more of a voice in the future.
Jose Arango is trying to keep his seat as county chairman, an election that is due shortly, and could test his ability to embrace newcomers.
Hudson County Republicans have had their share of political feuds, which has kept the party from being as effective as a counter balance to the Democrats as it might have been. This could change as new blood with ideas imported from the heartland of the state come into the county.
Hoboken housing fight not over
Carmelo Garcia has been fired as executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority, and will be replaced by Robert DeVincent, who currently runs the West New York and the Weehawken Housing Authorities. DeVincent helped clean up a previous mess in Hoboken before moving on. But he’s not always on the best of terms with political people, so the big fights in the upcoming weeks may be behind the scenes.
In West New York, he got on the wrong side of the administration when he would not farm out affordable housing units automatically to political supporters of the administration. This friction has since eased since the administration has stepped away from a number of former political supporters. But the fight is testimony to DeVincent’s refusal to bend rules for political favors. This may well be the medicine needed in Hoboken, although there remains some question as to Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s commitment to maintaining affordable housing stock in one of the wealthiest cities in the state. Part of this is the question about the fate of Garcia’s plans for redevelopment of the public housing. Is the project dead on arrival?
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.