Just when you thought it was safe to step back into Hudson County’s political waters, the shark strikes again – this surprise attack seizing hold of Jersey City Councilman Phil Kenny.
The newly elected and up-and-coming political figure on Jersey City’s west side has pleaded guilty to taking a bribe.
The fact that he was not among the original 44 people charged in last summer’s political roundup of alleged-bribe takers and sellers of human body parts will feed speculation that more new indictments and pleas are to come.
Where’s the plan, Christie?
With almost four weeks left in the gubernatorial election, future arrests may give former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie a sorely needed boost in the polls after his dismal performance in last week’s debate against incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine and independent candidate Chris Daggett.
Christie’s campaign is suffering from the Richard Nixon syndrome. In the 1968 presidential election, Nixon, then the Republican candidate, said he had a secret plan for ending the war in Vietnam. But he refused to disclose the details.
Christie, who has absolutely no experience running any business or public body (except the U.S. Attorney’s office), is positioning himself as someone who can cure the state’s economic woes. But like Nixon, he won’t give the details of his plan, leading his opponents to believe he has no plan.
Since pocketbook issues outweigh all other considerations in tough times, this may explain why Corzine’s poll numbers have improved and Christie’s declined. It doesn’t matter a whole lot how many Democrats Christie and his successors put in jail if Christie can’t find a way to reduce taxes, maintain services, and keep the state’s middle income people from fleeing the state in droves.
A real horse race
An election ballot is a lot like a horse racetrack. The candidate or horse closest to the rail gets a boost in winning.
In a horse race, the position closest to the inside rail gives the horse the shortest path to the finish line. This position on the political ballot is the column closest to the left side of the voting machine, which starts with column A.
For Democratic council candidates running in Secaucus – who were devastated by the resignation of Mayor Dennis Elwell last summer after he was charged with accepting a bribe – appearing on column A may help their chances.
Democratic council candidates Dawn McAdam, Frank Trombetta, and John Reilly will appear in a column that is headed by Gov. Corzine, Lt. Gov. candidate Loretta Weinberg, Assembly members Joan Quigley and Vincent Prieto, and Surrogate Judge Don De Leo.
Finding Councilman Mike Gonnelli – who is running unopposed for mayor in this election – or his running mates Robert Costantino, John Bueckner, and William McKeever may be a little more difficult.
Unlike most municipalities in Hudson County, Secaucus municipal elections are partisan, which means candidates are listed on party lines: Democrat, Republican or Independent.
If Gonnelli was running as a Republican, he would have an easier time because he would be listed under Christie in column B (Christie is expected to win Secaucus on Nov. 3).
But as independents, the Gonnelli team will line up under Independent candidates in column C starting with Gary Stein, Cynthia Stein, and Christopher Daggett for governor, Herbert Shaw for state Assembly, and Agha Khan for surrogate.
Bayonne ballot is less confusing
In Bayonne, the situation is a little easier, where six candidates are running to fill the unexpired term of Councilman Anthony Chiappone. Each candidate’s name appears in a different column after the Democrats and Republicans, with Debra Noble on the inside track, followed by John Cupo, Leonard Kantor, Terrance Ruane, Ramon Veloz, and Stanley Marko.
Elections coming Nov. 3
In Hoboken, where seven candidates are running in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Peter Cammarano (who resigned after being charged with taking a bribe), Patricia Waiters, has the inside track on column C, followed by Beth Mason, Frank Raia, Nathan Brinkman, Everton Wilson, incumbent Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and former Municipal Judge Kimberly Glatt.
Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City, Guttenberg, and West New York, and a portion of Jersey City, voters will also see a contested state Assembly race, with incumbent Assembly members Ruben Ramos Jr. and Caridad Rodriguez challenged by Republicans Beth Hamburger and John Barbadillo.
In the 31st district, which encompasses a large portion of Jersey City, voters will have to decide if they will reelect Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone, who is facing state charges for allegedly misdirecting state funds for payment to his aides into his personal and political reelection accounts.
Chiappone is running with Charles Mainor on the Democratic line in Column A, challenged by Republicans Irene Kim Asbury and Marie Day, as well as independents Neil Scott and Omar Dyer.
Guttenberg also has a municipal election. Incumbent Mayor Gerald Drasheff and his slate of commissioners Monica Fundora, John Habermann, Efrain Velez, Para Concejal de la Ciudad, and Alfonso Caso are running unopposed.