For political junkies, the Hoboken mayoral election won’t ever get better than this year as the two candidates, Peter Cammarano and Dawn Zimmer, come down to the last week.
Normally, primary committee elections do not indicate how municipal elections are going to turn out. But in this case, with the primary election held one week before the primary, the reverse is true.
With committee people loyal to Zimmer winning 18 districts – or 36 seats on the Hoboken Democratic Committee – and Cammarano loyalists winning 13 districts – or 26 seats – the election of the next mayor on June 9 may well be decided by those loyal to Councilman Michael Russo, whose committee ticket took 6 districts, or 12 seats.
So, there will be a lot of people courting the Russo family this week, especially when the committee reorganization meeting is scheduled for June 8.
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, backed by Cammarano, will likely seek to retain his position as chairman of the committee, with Zimmer followers likely pushing to get Ann Graham elected. Both sides will need the Russo votes, and where the Russo votes go in the committee chairman election on Monday could indicate where Russo voters may go the following day when either Cammarano or Zimmer is elected as mayor.
Secaucus will be a horse race in November
The primary election for mayor and council in Secaucus has both sides in the November election boasting.
Incumbent Mayor Dennis Elwell fended off an attempted political coup when Peter Weiner along with two council candidates and a nearly full committee slate tried to win the Democratic nomination.
This was seen as a test of Elwell’s political strength.
Although Elwell won handily, he did not win by a large enough margin to guarantee his victory in November against Councilman Michael Gonnelli, an even more formidable candidate.
The primary allowed both sides to look at Elwell’s strengths and weaknesses before the real test in November, and to make adjustments.
Elwell and the two council candidates survived the primary battle, allowing them to run on the Democratic line in November.
Elwell’s Dawn McAdam beat Joseph Morano in the 1st Ward. In the second ward, Frank Trombetta ran unopposed. In the 3rd Ward, John Reilly beat Susan Pirro. Elwell also lost only two committee seats, allowing him to control the Democratic Committee over the next year.
While Weiner and his ticket did surprisingly well, the results show the primary brought out the core voters of both camps, and Elwell’s camp prevailed.
The Elwell campaign relied on a significant number of political mailers, which cost the Elwell coffers as much as $100,000. Weiner sent no mailers, but relied on a grass roots campaign, as well as significant help from Gonnelli supporters.
In November, both sides will have to reach out to Republicans and independent voters for support, many of whom will vote on more bread and butter issues such as whether or not taxes rise.
Gonnelli supporters said this primary brought out about 3,000 voters, more than half the total voters expected in November, and Weiner did better than incumbent Mayor Anthony Just did in the last contested mayoral primary in 1999, suggesting that Gonnelli could beat Elwell despite the Weiner loss.
Some Gonnelli people see the primary as showing cracks in Elwell’s political base, and believe that November could be a landslide victory for Gonnelli.
Elwell believes his ticket is solid, that the primary showed that he is in the lead, and that other voters will likely support his ticket in November.
Weiner has already endorsed Gonnelli
Taxes on toilet paper?
In November, voters around the state will have to decide between Christie and Corzine.
No, not Christie Todd Whitman – but former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, who is challenging incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine.
Corzine is hampered by a crippled economy and the need to make massive cuts in the budget to keep state taxpayers from being overwhelmed.
Yet many of the problems New Jersey tax payers face today might have been less severe had the general public agreed to tax toilet paper back in 1990 when then-Gov. Jim Florio suggested it.
The toilet paper tax revolt was part of a statewide misinformation campaign waged by the Republicans to take back the state house and the state legislature in the early 1990s.
Florio was driven out of office because state Republicans sold the public on the concept that tax payers didn’t have to pay for many of the services the state provided.
Christie Whitman successfully beat Florio and over the next seven years balanced the budget by raiding the state unemployment funds and not keeping up with mandated pension payments.
Democratic governors since Whitman have been struggling not only to fix the problems voters would not allow Florio to fix, but also to fix the problems Whitman’s creative accounting created.
The question voters in November will have to decide is: can Corzine fix these problems, or will the state turn to Christie – who has been endorsed by Whitman?
Chiappone gets his wish
After being forced to choose between his council seat and Hudson County Democratic Organization support for his reelection to the state Assembly, Anthony Chiappone’s gamble paid off. He and fellow Democrat Charles Mainor defeated their challengers to become the Democratic candidates for state assembly in the 31st District in November, when they will face off against Republicans Irene Kim Asbury and Marie Day.
In the 33rd District, Democratic Assembly incumbents Ruben Ramos and Caridad Rodriguez ran unopposed, but will face off against Republicans Beth Hamburger and John Barbadillo in November.