Perhaps the most anticipated endorsement of the upcoming political season was scheduled to be delivered on Saturday, when state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack was expected to endorse the reelection of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop at Stack’s office at Hutton Street and Palisade Avenue, firmly within Councilman Michael Yun’s Ward D.
Many believe this may end Yun’s rumored aspiration to unseat Fulop as mayor in November, since Stack has a huge army of volunteers that will likely pour into Jersey City Heights to help Fulop.
This also effectively dispels the rumor that state Senator Sandra Cunningham might run for mayor against Fulop in November, because she and Stack are strong allies. If Cunningham intended to run, Stack would be endorsing her. The Stack move suggests that Cunningham might be expected to endorse Fulop soon as well.
However, while Stack is very powerful in Union City and North Hudson, his influence in Jersey City may not be as potent as some people believe. Stack came out against Fulop’s campaign to move the Jersey City municipal elections from May to June, but voters supported the referendum anyway. True, a huge plurality of votes for the referendum came from Downtown and the waterfront, with the Heights less enthusiastic about the measure, but this doesn’t prove Stack influenced the Heights voters, since both councilmen who represent the Heights, Yun and Richard Boggiano, also opposed moving the election.
Both of these councilmen are strong opponents of Fulop, and their supporters may offset whatever advantage Stack brings to that part of the city. The biggest impact of the endorsement may actually be that Cunningham will stay out of the municipal election, allowing Fulop to run hard against Yun, former Assemblyman Charles Mainor, and Bill Matsikoudis, who have all declared as candidates against him
Inside observers are chuckling over this early-in-the-game endorsement. Do Stack and Fulop know that the election is in November, not May?
“This is a bluff,” said one observer. “This is not going to keep anyone out of the election.”
Stack boasted about sending 300 workers into Jersey City to oppose the referendum moving the election and did five mailings, all of which did nothing to change the outcome.
“If anyone should know how little endorsements really mean, it should be Fulop,” another observer said. “President (Barack) Obama backed (Jerramiah) Healy last election, and see where that got him.”
Fulop’s big problem in The Heights is a lack of organizers. One of his key people passed away since the last election, and Shawn Thomas (Sully) is apparently no longer on the Fulop Team.
“It’s going to be a free-for-all,” another source predicted.
Most predict little will change in The Heights, but that Fulop needs to worry about other parts of the city such as Ward F, and other southern portions of the city plagued by gun violence.
While Fulop gave the first of a series of state of the city addresses there last week, a number of political people say this won’t be enough to overcome the fear many people feel in that part of the city.
“Fulop should be down in Ward F for Black History Month rather than worrying about The Heights,” one source said.
Although crime statistics show an overall drop in crime, people do not feel safe. This is a perception that will play a huge role in the election later this year, especially if the summer sees another spike in shootings and murders.
Sanctuary City bill will likely get vetoed
Stack will have other issues to contend with, now that he and other Hudson County legislators have authored a bill that would require the state to cover federal funding lost as a result of declaring themselves sanctuary cities. Jersey City and Union City have announced they would not cooperate with federal immigration authorities in pursuing undocumented immigrants, unless ordered by a court. President Donald Trump said these cities would lose federal funding. The bill Stack co-authored would have the state make up for the lost funds.
Gov. Chris Christie, whose lunch at the White House last week was said to not include discussion of a job in the Trump Administration, has said he would veto the bills if passed by the legislature.
The real funding pressure might fall on school boards that provide services to refugees, who point out that state and federal reimbursements appear not to cover all of the services required, such as providing for language, medical, and other special needs. The state also requires school districts to return any unspent money at the end of the school year and does not allow districts to carry the money over even when there will be a clear need at the start of a new school year.
Meanwhile, pressure may soon be mounting to have Hudson County sever its ties to immigration services, and to cease housing detainees at the county correction facility in Kearny. Unsubstantiated reports over the last week reported that agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been going door to door in sections of Jersey City and possibly also Union City – apparently as part of stepped up raids against undocumented immigrants.
News outlets have confirmed similar raids in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and other cities nationwide. Some believe this stepped up enforcement is a deliberate response to some cities declaring themselves as sanctuary cities.
Romano will open campaign headquarters shortly
Freeholder Anthony Romano says he will open a campaign headquarters for reelection as freeholder on Washington Street in Hoboken over the next few weeks.
Although he had not yet received the official backing of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, most believe he will, despite the organization’s long tradition of backing any candidate the mayor of a town (in this case, Mayor Dawn Zimmer) proposes.
Rumors that Romano intends to back Councilman Michael DeFusco for mayor against Zimmer in November are very premature. Romano still hasn’t decided if he will run for mayor himself, and DeFusco has not said if he will run.
Still, a draft DeFusco movement is underway, and a number of people are lining up to support him, partly because some people see Zimmer as vulnerable due to the Academy Bus controversy and other issues. The mayor wants to use eminent domain to take property owned by the bus company in the 4th Ward to expand a new city park now under construction. Some believe the move will result in a lengthy, and, for taxpayers, expensive lawsuit.
DeFusco held a fundraiser this month on the same night as Zimmer ally Ravi Bhalla’s.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org