Don’t be fooled into thinking that voters get to choose their members of the Board of Freeholders. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Hudson County, political bosses generally do – and with the exception of Freeholder Bill O’Dea, nobody has defied the Democratic political machine until this year.
Freeholder Anthony Romano is in a tough place. Because he didn’t endorse Dawn Zimmer for mayor in November’s election, he may soon get the boot. He represents all of Hoboken and a portion of Jersey City Heights.
But most of the main political players are giving Romano the cold shoulder.
Apparently Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is giving Zimmer the choice of freeholder, and the other political bosses in Hudson County are not going to step on either mayor’s toes to help salvage Romano’s political career.
In this case, the old political adage “to the victor go the spoils” aptly applies. With control of the City Council, Zimmer can give appointments to her most loyal following – as already shown by the list of appointments she made in January, telling opposing council members to take it or leave it.
But Zimmer, even backed by Fulop and a pack of political bosses, may not get her way.
Jersey City Council members Richard Boggiano and Michael Yun appear to be supporting Romano in The Heights. Also, Hudson County Republicans appear to be blocking a redistricting plan that would have shifted Romano’s district out of the Heights and more into Downtown Jersey City.
It is possible that Romano can win reelection in The Heights despite Zimmer’s vote against him in Hoboken. While squabbling among the anti-Zimmer camp in Hoboken may not win Romano a lot of votes, enough may see this as an opportunity to get even with Zimmer after they lost their municipal elections in November.
The anti-Zimmer camp thought that Romano got too cozy with Zimmer prior to the November election. Some see Romano’s current plight as his painful reward for trusting that Zimmer would reward him for keeping out of the race.
Romano declined to run for mayor against Zimmer and then against Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, and did not endorse any candidate.
But the move to dump Romano appears to have roots in the battle for control of the county freeholder board. While Fulop can count on O’Dea and Freeholder Junior Maldonado, he needs five supportive votes for control of the nine-member board. Reports suggest that he will support candidates against Freeholder Jeff Dublin and Bayonne Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico, giving him four of the five freeholders he needs. But he also needs Romano’s seat for the fifth vote.
Bayonne will likely be a horse race
Bayonne municipal elections loom, and many people still do not know who is running for council seats.
Reports suggest that Mayor Mark Smith will run with his current slate of council members, even though some apparently had thought not to run again.
But no announcement has come as of yet.
In 2010, Smith unveiled the ticket in one fell swoop, a no-name ticket that nearly swept in the first round, and only had two seats in the runoff.
While the field will be stuffed with candidates, especially in the 1st Ward where rumor says six candidates are running, none of the alternative mayoral candidates have yet announced full tickets either.
Petition signature paperwork became available this week so that the public should soon be able to get a glimpse of some potential candidates.
With teachers still angry over the lack of a contract with the school district (see cover story in the Bayonne Community News), the race is made more complicated with a possible referendum to establish an elected school board. Also being promoted is a referendum to restore rent control, which was defeated last year.
Anti-Smith candidates hope to galvanize both of these issues to get their candidates elected. But political elections being an organized sport, all will depend upon a get out the vote effort – something the Smith camp has excelled at in during past campaigns.
Did Guadagno fall for Zimmer’s innocent act?
“In Europe, public men still do resign,” Will Rogers once wrote. “But here [in America] it’s a lost art. You have to impeach them.”
This is particularly true when it comes to Gov. Christopher Christie, who will likely cling to his seat until the state legislature, dominated by vengeful Democrats, dumps him out of it.
This won’t be on account of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Her job appears to get Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to resign, which will likely happen if Bridgegate does bring Christie to his knees.
Guadagno and to a lesser degree, Richard Constable, commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, fell for Zimmer’s innocent rube ploy.
Zimmer maintains a façade of someone who is not politically savvy when in truth behind the veil is as calculating a political entity as any who have graced a county that Boss Frank Hague made famous for political cleverness.
Zimmer played the part of political innocent so well that Guadagno and Constable fell for it, and may have felt the need to explain more simply what they had in mind when it came to procurement of Sandy relief aid. Whether they issued an unacceptable quid pro quo or mentioned two different things in the same conversation, it’s hard to know for sure, but it’s possible that whatever they wanted, they spelled it out rather than being more subtle as they might with another politician.
Their doom may come from presuming that Zimmer was naïve, and if this helps bring down the Christie administration, it will be because they were taken in by Zimmer’s “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” spiel.
Those close to Zimmer said she doesn’t know how to lie, which is why she agreed to take a lie-detector test.
But was Zimmer encouraged to release this information now by other political brokers such as Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and the Union County political boss, state Sen. Ray Lesniak?
If truth be told, most people in Hoboken are less worried about whether Zimmer is telling the truth than in finding a parking space.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.