Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer got another gift this week that will frustrate her opponents in her upcoming reelection effort.
Last year, when Superstorm Sandy hit, Zimmer became a national figure, talking on the phone with both Pres. Barack Obama and Gov. Christopher Christie, while also making high profile public appearances with national media.
Her ability to get out ahead of the same sex marriage front drew similar attention and also helped fortify her base, frustrating possible efforts by Assemblyman Ruben Ramos and Councilman Tim Occhipinti, both of whom have to tread carefully as to not alienate part of the voting base.
Zimmer’s base is largely pro-gay rights, and launching herself into legal marriage for same sex couples at the stroke of midnight on the Monday after a state court ruling gave her a huge advantage that Ramos and Occhipinti lacked.
She got national exposure again, and once more looked like a real leader on a major issue, while her opponents have bases that may or may not approve of same sex marriage, and so neither of the other two candidates can fully embrace this civil rights advance for fear of losing support from those who don’t approve.
Zimmer, in joining Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Newark mayor (and U.S. Senator-elect) Cory Booker, steps out into the limelight her opponents cannot share. While the issue won’t be the deciding factor in winning the reelection for Zimmer, it may well give even more reason for her base to come out to vote for her.
Meanwhile, Ramos and Occhipinti had an opportunity to get free TV air time when Zimmer backed out of a debate being proposed by Pat O’Meila for cable TV.
“I was willing to let the two other debate without her,” O’Meila said. “But Tim decided if she wasn’t there, he didn’t want to do it. I think it was a failed opportunity.”
West New York for Christie?
While West New York Mayor Felix Roque was in Mexico, Commissoner FiorD'Aliza Frias, as acting mayor, endorsed Gov. Christie for re-election over state Sen. Barbara Buono. Rumored for about a week, the move allows Roque to retain his newly obtained good relationship with the Hudson County Democratic Organization, and still get the benefit of good will with Christie.
Roque is on the upswing anyway. His being pronounced not guilty of conspiracy to hack into a political opponents website has left him in a strong political position. He claimed all along that he was innocent, and a jury seemed to agree. After a year and a half of living under the shadow, he said he’s relieved that it’s over, although concerned about his son – although he believes his son will likely receive only community service as a result of being convicted as misdemeanor.
Roque’s political opposition may well be in shambles, especially after the rejection of a majority of signatures needed to recall Roque and commissioners loyal to Roque.
Commissioner Count Wiley is trying to rescue the recall movement, but apparently has racked up a $23,000 bill because of a last minute request to have the company print out necessary documentation. The cost involves overtime for West New York clerk employees.
Wiley has apparently brought on an old hand at this to help him sort through the mess since a number of the signatures appear to have come from residents living outside of West New York, such as in North Bergen and Guttenberg, according to sources.
Former Jersey City Mayor Gerry McCann is apparently aiding Wiley in sorting through the mess. McCann has helped rescue similar lost causes in other towns. It was McCann’s savvy that allowed Chris Campos to get a new election against Dawn Zimmer, a special election in Hoboken, even though Zimmer eventually prevailed.
Roque, who may well be unbeatable at this point, said he intends to offer an olive branch to Wiley so that peace may once more reign at commissioners’ meetings, events that have largely become raucous political three-ring circuses over the last year and a half.
Although Roque appears to have won the respect of a number of very powerful political figures inside and outside Hudson County, he has lost something important, he said. His indictment forced him to leave military service – in which he held the rank of colonel. He is seeking reinstatement.
“That’s what made me feel that I was giving back to my country,” Roque said.
Fulop to back Democratic ticket in November
Fulop is not going to make the same mistakes that Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith made when it comes to supporting candidates that people like Rep. Albio Sires and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez support.
Fulop announced that he will support Democratic candidates including Buono – this despite the fact that Christie attended Fulop’s swearing in last July.
As HCDO Chairman Vincent Prieto recently pointed out, this is Christie’s last statewide election. Most likely a winner in November, Christie won’t be on top of the ballot – except maybe for president in 2016. For Fulop, the Democratic endorsement will help him in the long run since many of the players will remain long after Christie has moved on.
Christie’s move to withdraw his legal challenge to the same-sex marriage ruling is yet one more sign of his presidential ambition. While this will alienate the far right and Tea Party members of the GOP (who are powerful in a Republican primary), Christie’s move may help sway moderate voters in a general election – much the way his hugging Democratic Pres. Obama seemed to resonate with New Jersey voters last year.