Another candidate drops out of governor’s race

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Hoboken Housing Authority chair Dana Wefer now have something in common – both have decided not to run for governor this year.

Wefer, a lifelong Democrat, shocked some in late February when she announced that she would run for governor as a Republican. However, in the few weeks since, she’s had second thoughts and decided not to seek the nomination after all.

“Not enough of a running start,” she said when contacted about the withdrawal. “Also trying to recruit and train legislative candidates and do my own race is just too much.”

Among the issues are getting onto the ballot and running a race in an expensive political market like Jersey City.

Wefer, who ran unsuccessfully for the Hoboken City Council two years ago, launched a new political action group called New Jersey Awakens immediately after the election, which she said was an effort to bring together people who are unhappy with candidates from the Republican or Democratic Party.

A supporter of Bernie Sanders in last year’s presidential campaign, Wefer said she hoped to create a new progressive movement that encompassed reasonable people from both parties. Then she said she intended to launch this effort by running for governor.

“Our reality is that the Democrats and the Republicans together have rigged the political system against the people through gerrymandering and special interest money,” she said in a statement when she co-founded the new group. She noted that only 14 percent of the state legislative seats are competitive in November, indicating that the process isn’t truly democratic.

But raising money for herself as well as supporting other candidates is a chore, and so she’s decided not to run. She also said she has plans to move out of Hoboken and into Bergen County shortly, another reason she’s decided not to seek the governorship.

She said she will focus on legislative candidates instead of running for governor, and will seek election reform.

“I’m very hopeful I’ll be able to build on the movement for next year,” she said. “In fact, a progressive woman just announced she’ll be running for congress in the 7th District as a Republican a la New Jersey Awakens.”

GOP Rep. Leonard Lance is the incumbent in the 7th District, located in central southeast of Newark and including Westfield and Flemington.

End of an era

Now that Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff has announced that he will not seek reelection, Councilman Wayne Zitt will run for mayor at the top of Team Guttenberg ticket that includes Councilmembers John Habermann and Monica Fundora as well as candidate for council Richard Delafuente.

This shakeup at the top is not new. Rumors suggesting Drasheff would step down have circulated for months. Drasheff is considered one of the Hudson County’s “nice guys,” defying the concept that nice guys finish last in the Hudson County political arena.

Drasheff was elected mayor in 2009 at a time of significant turmoil in Hudson County and in Guttenberg where his predecessor became embroiled in controversy. Drasheff is seen as a stabilizing force in North Hudson, and one of the peace keepers during the drawn out political war between political bosses in North Bergen and Union City, and unsettled political issues in West New York.

Drasheff, who is 73, said personal responsibilities to his family prompted his decision.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman resigns

Responding to a request from Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman has handed in his letter of resignation. “The president requested my resignation, along with the remaining presidentially-appointed U.S. attorneys across the country,” Fishman said in a statement. “It has been the greatest professional experience that I can possibly imagine to have served in this office for the past seven and a half years. Having spent so much of my career working to protect the interests of the people of New Jersey, I can think of no greater form of public service. I am enormously grateful for the opportunity I was given to lead the men and women who work in this office. They are the most extraordinary group of public servants I have ever known, and I am more than honored to have been their colleague.”

Fishman, of course, is best known in Hudson County for 2009’s Operation Bid Rig III that resulted in the arrest of more than 40 people, many of whom were later convicted as a result of a corruption sting. While some believe the innocent were charged along with the guilty, the sting operation did much to dismantle the Democratic organization going into the 2009 gubernatorial election. Some believe this helped propel Christopher Christie into office.

Fishman’s resignation is part of a massive change that has not been seen since President George W. Bush came into office, and perhaps even more sweeping that the house cleaning done by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

This resignation along with the others will have political ramifications. Currently, the U.S. Senator Bob Menendez is facing charges brought against him by the U.S. Department of Justice, and it will be the new U.S. Attorney for New Jersey who will have significant say in how aggressive the department will be in seeking to convict him.

The national Republican Party would love to be able to replace Menendez with a Republican, something that could happen since Gov. Christie would name the successor.

Will Munoz challenge Chiaravalloti?

Although reports claim Bayonne Board of Education Trustee Chris Munoz intends to run to unseat Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti in the Democratic primary in June, Munoz has yet to make it official. Although backed by the teachers’ union, Munoz faces an uphill battle since Chiaravalloti is expected to get the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization. Many believed this run for Assembly is really a precursor to a run for Bayonne City Council next year. This is very likely, since Munoz has been a vocal critic of the current administration.

Al Sullivan may be reached at