As powerful as state Sen. Sandra Cunningham may seem in the 31st District as a result of being named to Governor-Elect Christopher Christie’s transition team, she still may have to look over her shoulder for potential candidates who might run against her.
Mary Spinello recently opened a campaign account for a run for the state Senate and Bruce Alston recently suggested that he might also be interested in running against Cunningham.
This is part of a Democratic feud which could see a concerted effort to unseat her, not just in the general election in 2011, but in the 2011 Democratic Primary as well.
“The idea is to make her spend money,” one political observer said. “She doesn’t have the resources and that’s where she’s vulnerable.”
Since County Executive Tom DeGise has vowed to remove Cunningham because she blocked his appointment to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey earlier this year, she might well seem on the defensive again.
But to use an adage of Democratic days gone by, Cunningham is money poor but voter rich, and with 10,000 voters willing to support her in southern Jersey City, she is still a force to be reckoned with, especially if she makes any kind of countywide alliance with political powerhouses in North Hudson such as state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack or state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
One sign that the old Democratic civil war in Hudson County may be fading is the apparent agreement between former contenders Sacco and Stack that Sheriff Juan Perez must go. Reports suggest that two people, a Jersey City resident and someone from outside Jersey City, are being considered to oppose Perez. One rumor even has former Hoboken Municipal Judge Kimberly Glatt as a possible candidate to replace Perez.
“It makes sense,” said one Hoboken politico. “She is a lawyer, a former assistant prosecutor, and a former municipal judge.”
She also recently resigned her position as judge in order to run for Hoboken mayor, and lost to Dawn Zimmer. Healy meets Gov.-Elect Christie at JC homeless shelter
Although rumored to be the subject of investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office for some time, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy did not get to meet former U.S. Attorney Christie until the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving, when Christie joined Cunningham and Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop at St. Lucy’s Homeless Shelter, where Christie helped distribute food for the needy.
“Healy walked up to Christie, shook his hand and said, ‘I don’t know a lot about you, but I’m sure you know a lot of about me,” one eyewitness at the site said.
Christie, who will be sworn in a governor on Jan. 19, apparently laughed at the joke.
But the joke may be on Healy, considering the five additional charges filed against his former Deputy Major Leona Beldini, who claims Healy allegedly knew about some of the underhanded dealings that led to the arrest of 44 people in July.
Several people caught up in the federal sweep last summer have public events coming up. Phil Kenny’s birthday party (which some are calling a fundraiser for his defense fund) is set for Dec. 6 at Abbey’s Pub in downtown Jersey City. The invitation says “A monetary gift would be appreciated.” The return address has former Councilman Tom Fricchone’s name on it.
Meanwhile, Jimmy King, who was also charged with taking a bribe in the federal sting, continued his yearly tradition of feeding the needy this year. His civic association made more than 250 deliveries and fed more than 150 walk-ins. About 75 people volunteered to help his Thanksgiving effort at St. John’s on JFK Boulevard in Jersey City
Some of the volunteers included Sean Connors, who may be running for freeholder in 2011, and Richard McCormack, who is seeking to run for the Jersey City council in 2013.
Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith had an embarrassing moment over Thanksgiving when the Hudson Reporter noticed that his campaign reports showed a contribution from Ron Manzo, two months after Manzo had been charged with helping to broker bribes to a number of Hudson County politicos.
Smith’s aides said the date of the contribution was typed into the system inaccurately, and that it was received before Manzo was arrested. Now, it will be donated to a local medical facility.
Ron’s brother, former Assemblyman Louis Manzo, who has also been charged in the summer roundup, moved out of his Journal Square residence this week.
Chiappone had his day in court
Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone, who faces charges resulting from an attorney general’s investigation, appeared in court with his wife to plead not guilty.
“We’re in the process of discovery,” he said.
The next scheduled court appearance will be Feb. 9, at which time his attorney is expected to ask for an acquittal. Chiappone will be sworn in for another term as assemblyman on Jan. 12. Chiappone said he has been in discussions with Assembly leadership to restore his committee positions and his Assembly salary – both of which were stripped after he was charged earlier this year.
Gearing up for the next election
Jersey City may soon see a competing political organization to counter the dominance of the HCDO. One Jersey City Coalition is gearing up to support candidates in the upcoming special municipal election in 2010 as well as the regular municipal in 2013. Although as pointed out in last week’s column, Shelly Skinner appears to have the inside track for the Ward E council seat when incumbent Councilman Fulop makes his run for mayor, other names are being proposed such as Carol Lester, environmental activist and charter school founder, Geoff Elkind (global consulting attorney, former neighborhood association leader and 2001 Ward E council candidate), Tony Sandkamp, neighborhood association leader and historic preservation commissioner, and council-at-large candidate from earlier this year Andrew Hubsch.
In Hoboken, Tim Occhipinti seems to have taken the first steps towards building his own coalition with the aim of running again for City Council. An event he held this week drew more than 150 people including some local political heavyweights.