Had state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack attended the Hudson County Democratic Organization meeting, he would not have been happy to see his name on political posters alongside Barbara Buono’s, since Stack has endorsed Republican Gov. Christopher Christie, not Buono.
Stack is part of a group of Democrats who have become known as Christiecrats for having broken with their own party to endorse the sitting governor’s reelection effort.
For Christie, winning these endorsements and the body of votes that comes with them sets him up for a presidential run in 2016 as a Republican candidate who can help heal the deep wounds partisan politics has left in the nation.
Christie is appealing to some Democrats because he is considered a moderate Republican, someone willing to hug a Democratic president, if that president comes with resources to help New Jersey recover from disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.
Christie is also appealing because he is not a Tea Party ultraconservative—which is one reason that he likely called for the special election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Frank Lautenberg , which was held Oct. 16.
The last thing Christie needs is to run on the same political line as Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, a move that would have dampened his own Republican numbers and driven Democrats back to their own ranks.
Stack is wise to support Christie. Always a maverick, Stack has used his connection with Christie to offset opposition in his own party during what has become a series of large and small Democratic civil wars in Hudson County.
Even though there is peace for the moment, Stack owes some allegiance to Christie, and this is his way of paying the Governor back.
But Stack is not above playing politics, which may explain the mock sample ballot that was mailed to people in his legislative district, a ballot that showed Christie’s name, but not Buono’s. Stack could not have sent a clearer message to his political base. For him, there is a one horserace, and the horse is Christie.
Who won the Hoboken Reporter debate?
The online video debate that included all three mayoral hopefuls in Hoboken has become the source of bragging rights as each claims to have won.
There was no winner or loser, but the debate highlighted some of the weaknesses and strengths of the candidates, as such debates have in the past.
Although voters should look at the debate to form their own opinion, the basic thumbnail suggests that Assemblyman Ruben Ramos was well prepared, while Councilman Tim Occhipinti seemed well suited for the format and came off well. Mayor Dawn Zimmer, meanwhile, relied largely on her record of accomplishments but failed to reveal an agenda for the future.
Although Occhipinti has a poll that suggests he is within striking distance of beating Zimmer, many believe this is largely an election to win the deciding vote on the council. Occhipinti’s running mate Frank Raia appears to have pulled out all financial stops in hoping to become a councilman. With the current council split four to four between Zimmer supporters and those that oppose her, Raia could become a powerbroker, trading his vote to one side or the other over the next two years. With ten candidates running for three seats and with no runoff, this is a very real possibility.
The Occhipinti ticket and to a lesser degree those supporting Ramos appear to have targeted Council President Ravi Bhalla, looking to exploit alleged ethical issues as a means of weakening him. This, of course, is a huge mistake. An attack on Bhalla will only make him stronger.
While voters might shift between the Ramos and Occhipinti camp, Zimmer voters aren’t going to be pried away from her and her slate by negative campaigning. Zimmer voters won’t ever go to Occhipinti or Ramos, negative campaigning or not.
In the past, old-guard political parties—as some label Ramos and Occhipinti—have beat reformers by providing candidates who would appeal to reform voters, seemingly professionals with similar concerns. This was one factor that allowed Peter Cammerano to win in 2009, and something anti-Zimmer slates seem to be lacking in 2013.
Recall on the ropes
Although West New York Commissioner Count Wiley feels confident he can make up for the deficiencies in the petitions submitted to recall Mayor Felix Roque and those commissioners loyal to him, other political observers think it is a very large uphill battle. One official called the petitions a mess. Wiley might not have time or resources to save the effort and it may be a waste of time even if he manages it.
Roque, who was cleared of charges of hacking, may well be unbeatable now that he has come into the good graces of North Hudson’s political heavyweights such as state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and Rep. Albio Sires—provided Roque avoids some of the political blunders he made in the past.
Some believe Roque is much more acceptable to everyone these days than any of the proposed alternatives, and these political powers would rather keep him in place as mayor than support a recall and a possible political vacuum that a worse alternative might seek to fill.
In the wings is former Mayor Sal Vega, whose plans appear to be focused on the next regular municipal election slated for May 2015.