‘Obama Girl’: Who are you voting for? Various officials and residents looking at presidential choices for Super Tuesday

Jersey City has over 240,000 residents, but in this predominantly Democratic city, most residents are split between two presidential candidates: U.S. senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

If you’re Amber Lee Ettinger, there’s a good chance Obama is your guy.

The Pennsylvania native, who now lives in Jersey City, gained notoriety last year as “Obama Girl,” appearing in a sultry YouTube video “I Got a Crush … on Obama” in which the actress/model Ettinger crooned seductively about Obama.

When contacted last week, the Jersey City resident was coy about whether or not she’ll vote for Obama, which was understandable considering the controversy surrounding the 3-minute video and her stating in past interviews that the video was done not in support of him, but for fun. She preferred to answer in terms of herself versus her other persona.

“Obama Girl is all about Obama, so of course she will be supporting him,” Ettinger said. “Amber Lee Ettinger likes to keep her decision secret. That is why it’s called a secret ballot, right?”Super Tuesday

But that doesn’t mean that other candidates aren’t accruing followings.

New Jersey (and particularly Hudson County) is an important state in the ongoing presidential race. Both Democrats and Republicans are looking forward to New Jersey’s results in the upcoming presidential primary on Feb. 5, also known as Super Tuesday.

Among the officials in the Obama camp is Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who early in 2007 came out backing the Illinois senator. He is one of the key officials in the state who has been steadfast in his endorsement, along with state Sen. Sandra Cunningham and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

In the Clinton contingent is City Councilman Steven Fulop, who came out early for her and was one of the people behind her first appearance in Jersey City in August for her presidential fundraiser at the Newport Financial Center in July.

A survey done last week by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut found that Clinton is the leading contender for 49 percent of likely Democratic voters in New Jersey, compared with 32 percent for Obama. On the Republican side, the survey finds Arizona Sen. John McCain having 29 percent over former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s 26 percent. Turnout will increase this time

Since New Jersey’s primary was moved up from February to June, it will have more of an impact on which candidates stay in the race.

Last time around, in June, 2004, it wasn’t as important. At the time of the 2004 state Presidential Primary, there were 43,965 registered Democratic voters in Jersey City, but only approximately a third cast a ballot. Democratic candidate John Kerry got the lion’s share, with 10,321 votes.

Meanwhile, there were 7,329 registered Republican voters in Jersey City. Only 1,037, or 14 percent, casting ballots. Then-candidate George W. Bush got 913 of those votes.

In June, the primary was only two months away from the Democratic and Republican Conventions, where frontrunners Bush and Kerry were crowned by their respective parties.

This year’s primary, moved up four months, has the makings of being far more competitive. Besides Clinton and Obama, the Democrats also have North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who is seen as someone who can get votes from those disillusioned with Clinton and Obama in Jersey City as well as the rest of Hudson County.

For Republicans, Giuliani once held a formidable lead in New Jersey and enjoyed a great deal of popularity and admiration from his two terms as New York City mayor.

But now, the wheels have fallen off his campaign, and he has to slug it out with John McCain, enjoying resurgence in recent months in his financially-challenged run for the White House. And Giuliani may even lose votes to former Massachusetts Gov. Willard Mitt Romney. Residents discuss Republicans

Dan Falcon resides in Jersey City’s Newport area. While he has gained his own local fame as the webmaster of the popular Internet bulletin board, JC List (www.jclist.com), Falcon has also stood out for his unabashed endorsement of Republican candidate Ron Paul on the Web site.

Paul is the Texas Congressman who has a small but devoted following nationwide for his stance on ending the federal income tax and Federal Reserve System, the nation’s central banking system. Falcon has even put a Ron Paul window sticker on his car.

Falcon spent nearly 30 minutes listing the various reasons why Paul should be president, even though he is polling with low numbers in New Jersey.

“The reason I like Ron Paul is when I listen to him speak, I learn something,” Paul said. “And he has the only solution to fix our economy to bring home all soldiers we have on military bases around the world and save the trillion dollars he said we are spending on them.”

Also endorsing a Republican is lifelong resident Guy Catrillo, an employee in the city’s Planning Division.

Catrillo, a registered Republican since 1972, has set his sights on Giuliani for Super Tuesday.

“When he first became mayor in 1993, I thought he was a phony, but then I saw his heart was in trying to make change in New York City,” Catrillo said. “I think Giuliani scares a lot of conservative Republicans with his moderate stances.”

When asked if he has any thoughts of voting for another candidate on Feb. 5, Catrillo summed up his steadfast support with the following analogy: “When the Catholic Church had its problems, I didn’t become a Presbyterian.” Comments on this story can be sent to rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com