The Jersey City mayor’s race got just a little bit more interesting with the addition of a fourth candidate last week. Abdul Malik threw his hat in a race that already includes Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Councilman Steven Fulop and Jerry Walker.
Malik is not a heavy hitter when it comes to citywide elections, getting about 700 votes in 2009 when he ran for an at-large seat. But he gives voters yet one more choice as to who they might want, if they do not want to reelect Healy.
The spin doctors are all over this, claiming this will hurt or help Healy, although many believe the race will be a lot closer than predicted a year ago, and that Malik will help push the election into a recall between Fulop and Healy.
If Walker gets funding, he could be in the runoff, and as the only African American candidate in the race, he could put State Senator Sandra Cunningham in an awkward position. Does she support a caucasian over an African American candidate? Some people are asking why Walker has his headquarters on Palisades Avenue in the Jersey City Heights when he should have one in Ward F where he is expected to get significant support.
Wiley’s gearing up
As Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying, “The game’s afoot.” Commissioner Count Wiley is getting ready to collect petition signatures for a recall of West New York Mayor Felix Roque.
Wiley people are saying that they replaced some of their signature collectors in order to ensure that they can get the required number of signatures, and to avoid having any workers intimidated because they might have jobs with the city.
Wiley has taken an early lead in trying to get an election to recall Roque for September, when his campaign expects the most anti-Roque voters to be back from vacation.
Reportedly, a special election could run as much as $100,000, but Wiley people are saying this is less than the cost of some professionals that the city has hired recently.
The Wiley campaign will resemble a successful campaign run by Secaucus pols a few years ago to “take back” Secaucus, and if he is successful, Wiley hopes to give local jobs to WNY residents rather than what they call “hired guns from out of town.”
But Roque has assembled a tight knit group for his inner circle that includes some seasoned professionals, with strong ties to very significant campaigns such as the successful bid of Corey Booker for mayor of Newark a few years ago. If push comes to shove, they will be very tough to beat.
Former Mayor Sal Vega apparently wanted to get into the WNY race, but seems unable to get support from North Bergen Mayor and State Sen. Nicholas Sacco.
War horse in North Hudson?
The Democratic civil war that many predicted Stack would launch seems to be getting less likely, despite hawkish efforts of the war’s chief architect, attorney Libero Marotta, who was recently driven out of the Union City Housing Authority by a group of anti-Stack people convinced that if they removed Marotta from the political scene Stack might tumble.
But many see Marotta as an instrumental figure in several cities, including West New York, where he appears to be pushing Roque into seeking an elected school board as part of Roque’s continuing purge of people loyal to former mayor, now-Rep. Albio Sires, including Sires’ wife, who is seen as a potential contender for commissioner if there is a recall election.
Roque has been systematically removing rivals and others from key positions and replacing them with supporters, a wise move for the long term, and something that will bode well for him if he manages to survive his trial for allegedly hacking into an opponent’s website. The trial is apparently scheduled for May.
Depending on who you ask, Roque has a chance – and certainly the cash – to beat the rap. If he does, beating him may be more of a challenge. If he does not, then many of the people tied to him will likely be seeking unemployment insurance by year’s end.
Marotta also speaks for Stack in remote places such as Bayonne, where there were attempts to put together an alternative ticket against Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell.
Who will Stack pick?
Rivaling Shakespeare’s Hamlet for indecisiveness, Stack has yet to make up his mind on who his running mates will be in the upcoming Democratic primary. With Assemblyman Sean Connors running for Jersey City council on the Fulop ticket and Assemblyman Ruben Ramos running for mayor of Hoboken, Stack has two spots to fill.
Marotta, who is a member of the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, is apparently encouraging his fellow commissioner Frank Raia to seek one of the seats (possibly to keep Raia from running for mayor of Hoboken and spoiling Ramos’ chances). Meanwhile, reports suggest that James Carroll, who Stack had picked as his candidate for sheriff if there was going to be a civil war, might seek the second Assembly seat.
But Raia is no shoo-in, and although Hoboken Councilman Beth Mason is rumored to be less favored than she was before, insiders say she isn’t out of the game.
More importantly, Stack may not need Raia or Mason if he calls off his Democratic civil war, and could even reach out to someone like Hoboken Councilman Michael Russo, who some claim would show much more loyalty to Stack than any of the other choices.
Yet, one source close to Stack says Mason will likely get the slot.
Hoboken, as usual, is a political mess, even though Mayor Dawn Zimmer is stronger than ever. The strategy for her opponents will be to take control of the City Council and force her to deal with them. The lack of love for Ramos may have doomed his candidacy nine months before voters go to the polls. Reports suggest that some people who previously opposed Zimmer are talking to her, cutting their own deals behind the scenes, something that Zimmer zealots might well find offensive.
In Bayonne, Ed Gillian was put off as an election worker after the Bayonne Tenant Association, which he heads, seemed to make a move to support former Councilman Gary LaPelusa.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.