The way people are talking about State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, you might have to design a comic book about him, painting him as a mild-mannered Clark Kent-like character who rushes to find a phone booth every time a weak political figure needs to be rescued.
Although Stack has a lot of clout, past elections show his pull isn’t as great as people seem to think.
And some even view his help as questionable, since any candidate incapable of winning a Hoboken election without help from outside Hoboken perhaps should reconsider why he or she is running at all.
Councilwoman Beth Mason has been getting blasted pretty hard for seeking and accepting Stack’s support, for this reason.
People claim she has always said she would not run with a political machine, and here she goes seeking the help of a political super-hero to aid her in doing battle against the Hudson County Democratic Organization – which some people claim was source material for George Lucas’ Evil Empire in “Star Wars.”
But when reports begin to surface that Stack may not back Mason after all, we hear a new tune from her critics, asking, “What’s wrong with her? Why doesn’t Stack want her?”
Stack isn’t Superman, Batman, or even Shakespeare’s Macbeth, although at times he seems to exhibit aspects of each: a nearly invincible political force in Union City, who may or may not respond when one of his allies flashes the Bat Signal in the sky.
Hoboken Councilman Peter Cammarano has declared his intention to run for mayor. But poll numbers have not been kind to him. According to a poll done on behalf of Councilman Michael Russo, Cammarano continues to trail Mason and Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer by such a significant margin his presence might not even cause the election to go into a runoff.
In municipal elections, a candidate must get one or more votes better than 50 percent of the voters in order to be elected. If he or she does not, then the top two vote-getting candidates must run again in a runoff election. This happened in 2005 when then-Mayor Dave Roberts fended off a challenge from Carol Marsh.
While the HCDO appears to have a natural affinity with Cammarano, the organization may fear their effort might be a lost cause, forcing them to shift their support to Zimmer instead. The organization, chaired by Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, may also hold back to wait for a runoff where they will back any candidate opposing Mason.
Cammarano’s great hope is in who he selects for his council running mates. A strong ticket could improve his overall position and propel him into the runoff.
He is expected to announce his council slate in front of the Jerry Malloy Center on March 3 at noon, with an Obama-style fundraiser at the Elysian Café later in the evening.
Fulop as Luke Skywalker
The HCDO has also become a political football in the Jersey City race, where mayoral hopeful Louis Manzo is claiming Councilman Steve Fulop is a secret agent for the HCDO.
This may be an attempt to intimidate Fulop into joining the Manzo ticket against Healy in the municipal election.
Manzo needs Fulop’s strong support in Ward E if he is to keep his mayoral aspirations alive. But Fulop isn’t having any part of it.
Fulop, a well-known critic of Healy, decided not to run with Manzo, and will seek election as an independent instead.
This could spell serious problems for the Manzo campaign, even though Manzo has several significant issues, such as rising violent crime in Jersey City and a large tax increase.
But with state Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith capable of drawing anti-Healy votes throughout the city, as well as a significant portion of the traditional African-American vote in southern Jersey City, Manzo may find it difficult to get into the expected runoff.
Along with Healy, Smith, and Manzo, Daniel Levin, Naystone Romero, Phillip G. Webb and Irene Zahylkiewicz are reportedly seeking the mayoral slot.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani came to Hoboken two weeks ago to endorse former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie in his run to become governor of New Jersey. The two Republican heavyweights decided to hold their little public address in the park across from Gov. Jon Corzine’s legal residence, in order to rub salt into the ailing governor’s wounds.
Poll numbers show that Corzine has become unpopular, giving encouragement to Republicans that they might get another chance to mess up the state the way they did when Christine Whitman was governor.
Christie must have presumed that Corzine was playing hooky from the governor’s mansion and would be in Hoboken in time to witness this taunting.
It will be curious to see how two of the country’s more famous Republicans do in trying to cure the nation’s economic woes when each rode the crest of the economic boom.
Perhaps they will have a better understanding of the current situation since – as former officials – they now know what it’s like to be on the downside of their former jobs.
It might be even more helpful if Christie came down to the growing unemployment and welfare lines to find out how people feel.
Corzine, a supposed liberal, was supposed to make the state run like a business. Perhaps he has. Like many businesses these days, the state appears to be bankrupt.
Al Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.