Saying that he has to concentrate on winning his reelection to the Hoboken School Board, Frank Raia said he won’t be endorsing – at this time – any of the six candidates running for mayor.
This comes after several sources claimed Raia would endorse Councilman Peter Cammarano and send a mass mailing to state powerbrokers on Cammarano’s behalf in a fundraising effort.
Raia stated emphatically that he is concentrating solely on this Tuesday’s school board election and that his first priority is to improve education for Hoboken students.
“He is not taking a role in this year’s mayoral campaign actively or behind the scenes at this time,” said an official spokesperson for Raia. “And he certainly is not endorsing anyone.”
Other Raia supporters said that while Raia and Cammarano share a campaign headquarters, this is not an indication of Raia’s political support.
Raia said in a separate interview that he is willing to work with any of the candidates who become mayor, on behalf of the students.
“In the past, Frank has had strong endorsements from many of the hopeful mayoral candidates,” the Raia spokesperson said, citing good relationships with them all, including Councilmember Dawn Zimmer, who – although backing a Board of Education slate that opposes Raia this year – actively campaigned for Raia during last year’s freeholder election.
An official spokesperson said several mayoral candidates, including Cammarano, have expressed interest in supporting Raia’s school ticket, but this does not imply that Raia is supporting any of them.
The reason Cammarano supporters need Raia’s support is so that they can convince powerful funders elsewhere in the state to contribute to Cammarano’s campaign.
Although several questionable polls have put him behind Zimmer and Councilmember Beth Mason, Cammarano could get into a runoff in June if he gets the funding he needs.
Meanwhile, Mason is taking her campaign into the heart of Zimmer territory, with the expected opening of a 4th Ward headquarters.
Are the Chiappone troubles political?
At a point when Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone thought he had come to a peaceful resolution with his political adversaries by resigning his Bayonne council seat, he suddenly faces a possible investigation by the state.
He and some of his supporters find the timing suspicious.
“It is almost as if they wanted me out of the council and now want the Assembly seat as well,” Chiappone said.
Chiappone’s attorney asked why the state Attorney General’s office would be investigating “the complaints of unreliable political hacks,” and whether or not the investigation has roots in a political feud between Chiappone and former Mayor Joseph Doria, who is now Commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs.
Some Chiappone opponents claim that the timing of the investigation is coincidental and has more to do with the fact that Gov. Jon Corzine needs to establish a record against corruption in order to counter the remarkable record of his potential Republican challenger for governor, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.
“That’s why you’re seeing a lot of things being uncovered,” one prominent Hudson County observer said. “Corzine is turning over every stone to find something.”
Vega sees light at end of political tunnel
Additional revenues brought into the West New York budget could hurt the chances of a recall election against Mayor Sal Vega. Critics were apparently predicting that taxes in the last quarter of a troublesome political year would jump by more than 15 percent from the previous quarter. However, a combination of state aid and other revenue will reduce the tax bill for most people by 19 percent from the previous quarter, when it rose.
Vega said he is working with DCA Commissioner Doria to help bring tax relief to the city, and combined with the state’s recent action to defer pension payments, the negative impact of the budget may not be as terrible as originally thought.
Vega, however, said this is a bad year for anyone running for reelection. He believes that the economic situation will turn around by the time he has to run for reelection in 2011.
Secaucus school election means big change
The fact that three incumbent school board members declined to run this year promises a major change of direction for the school district. Over the last decade, the sway of one time Democratic leader Rocco Impreveduto has been fading. Mayor Dennis Elwell, who took over the local Democratic party just after taking office in 2000, inherited many former Impreveduto people. This election appears to be the first in which the Impreveduto legacy no longer holds sway. The vacancies on the board will likely be filled with a combination of conflicting Elwell supporters and those supported by Councilman Michael Gonnelli, leaving the one time powerful influence of the Imprevedutos as a political footnote.
Cunningham supports Healy: no surprise
State Sen. Sandra Cunningham has finally endorsed incumbent Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy for reelection. This was no great shock since Healy has been courting her support for months. The question will be instead how much it will help. Challenger Louis Manzo, who in the past was known for peaking too early, appears to be gearing up at the right time. Much of his successful campaign near Journal Square may be the result of his council candidate, Jimmy King, and his remarkable organization. L. Harvey Smith, seen as the other leading contender, has been touring various community groups around the city.