Even before the presidential election season has expired, the race for governor of New Jersey is underway. Phil Murphy has become the first candidate for the Democratic nomination to officially announce.
With most local Democrats rumored to be supporting Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, that announcement will have little or no impact in Hudson County, except perhaps in Hoboken.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s appearance at a Murphy event at the League of Municipalities convention last November in Atlantic City suggests that she may once more play the lone wolf and go her own way in the gubernatorial contest.
Zimmer appears to have also held at least one event in Hoboken on behalf of Murphy, once more defying the hope of Fulop for a united Hudson County.
With state Sen. Sandra Cunningham apparently supporting state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Hudson County appears to be split three or possibly four ways. If state Sen. Ray Lesniak remains in the race for governor, then some political people in Hudson County will find old loyalties challenged.
Mainor for mayor
Reports claim that former Assemblyman Charles Mainor might throw his hat in the mayoral ring if Fulop successfully wins the Democratic nomination for governor. This raises questions. Mainor, a one-time ally of Cunningham, was not strong enough to protect his Assembly seat when challenged last year. How can he expect to win as mayor, even if the city does away with a runoff election? Mainor, however, may be looking for the Hudson County Democratic Organization to offer some appointment he can exchange for stepping out of the race later. Mainor was put out of his assembly seat when the HCDO decided to support Angela McKnight. Since McKnight is not likely to leave any time soon, you have to wonder what position the HCDO might have to offer Mainor.
Will Wintner be drafted for Ramchal’s council seat?
More in the realm of possibility, but not probable, is the movement to get the City Council to appoint activist Esther Wintner as the Ward B councilperson to replace Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal. He has agreed to vacate his council seat as part of a plea agreement that will keep him from serving jail time. He pleaded guilty last week to a number of charges connected to a car crash in March 2015.
While Wintner is well-versed in the issues of the city, she is not as reliable a vote to support Mayor Fulop’s agenda, and could be seen as a potential ally of councilmembers Richard Boggiano and Michael Yun on an already-divided City Council. Wintner supporters argue that she ought to get the nod since she managed to get Ramchal into a runoff in the 2013 election.
Will Zimmer appoint Forman to Hoboken Housing Authority?
Hoboken resident Hovie Forman is rumored to be a future commissioner on the Housing Authority.
This would be a bold move for Mayor Zimmer, who has previously stayed largely within the Democratic framework in Hudson County.
Forman, a Republican and a supporter of Donald Trump for president, may also be testing the waters for disenfranchised Democrats to join his cause.
This could include a Draft Frank Raia movement to get the developer and former North Hudson Sewerage Authority commissioner to support Trump.
Despite Gov. Christopher Christie’s endorsement of Trump for president, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will likely win the state if she can somehow convince supporters of Bernie Sanders to support her.
This may not be an easy task since many Sanders’ supporters see the system rigged against their candidate with the allocation of super delegates.
Sanders has won a number of states where he actually lost ground to Clinton because she managed to procure unelected super delegates to her camp. In an election in which many voters are protesting against what they see as a corrupt and ineffective system of government, this super delegate matter may just keep Sanders’ supporters home or have them not vote for any presidential candidate if they do cast ballots – if no viable third party candidate emerges. Some of Sanders’ followers may even vote for Trump.
At stake, of course, will be the appointment of a Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat vacated by the death of Anthony Scalia. The GOP is nervous about Trump even though he will inevitably become their candidate. Trump tends not to follow party lines, which is what makes him most attractive to those who support him, and very dangerous to the GOP establishment which must rely on him as their standard bearer.
Hudson County Republicans are likely to support Trump wholeheartedly, seeing this as an opportunity to recruit and possibly become a viable challenge to the power of the Democratic dominance here.
While Trump will likely see strong support in Bayonne, Kearny, Secaucus and possibly North Bergen, he may also see support in surprising places like Hoboken and the Jersey City waterfront.
Was Cresci settlement an olive branch?
The movement to recall Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis is still proceeding, with members gathering signatures in hopes of getting the 8,000-plus needed to force a November election.
Last week, the city settled a federal libel lawsuit with former Bayonne Business Administrator Peter Cresci, ending another chapter in a behind-the-scenes power struggle that started in the administration of Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith.
The Smith Administration raised claims against Cresci that he said were untrue. Indeed, the charges the administration raised seemed to have evaporated over time. But it is reportedly one of the reasons why Cresci supported Davis over Smith in the 2014 election.
Some critics of Davis claim that the settlement with Cresci was payback for that support, as well as an effort to heal differences that have emerged between Cresci and Smith since the election.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.