Although the national election for president was between Democrat Hillary Clinton and now-President-Elect Donald Trump, the biggest winners and losers locally may be Gov. Christopher Christie and U. S. Sen. Robert Menendez.
Christie, who leaped onto the Trump campaign after failing his own bid for president earlier this year, is now in line for a post in Trump’s cabinet, allowing him to exit the governorship early. This will allow Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to run as the Republican candidate for governor next November. While it is highly unlikely Guadagno can win against Democratic frontrunner Phil Murphy, the move is part of a national chess game for more control in the U.S. Senate.
Menendez faces serious charges brought against him by the U.S. Department of Justice. Insiders believed that Trump will push to have the case fasttracked. If Menendez is forced to resign as a result of these charges, then Guadagno will get to appoint a temporary replacement, giving the GOP yet one more vote in the U.S. Senate until a special election. This will also give this appointee the advantage of running as an incumbent when the seat comes up for a vote next November.
“The Republicans are hoping they can steal one of two Democratic seats in New Jersey,” one source said.
While Christie was damaged by testimony in the Bridgegate Trial, he was not charged, and he will be able escape the shadow of the George Washington Bridge scandal and become a key member of Trump’s national team.
Fulop has a problem
On the surface, Jersey City seemed to avoid any recent dramatic political shifts as a result of local elections. But in truth, Mayor Steven Fulop – who over the last few years seemed political invincible – appears to have lost steam. Although most of the candidates he backed for the school board won, the opposition managed to steal one of the three seats, showing that Fulop’s endorsement is worth less than it was in the past.
Fulop’s candidate for Ward B, John Hallanan III, lost, showing extreme vulnerability on the West Side of Jersey City.
With Ward F now in play thanks to the election of Councilwoman Diane Coleman as County Register and the possible loss of Ward A Councilman Frank Gatjewski (whom some believe will not seek reelection) Fulop will need to come up with council candidates in Ward A, Ward B, Ward C, Ward D, and Ward F next year.
Fulop is not popular in Ward F or Ward A, and already has opposition council members in Ward C and Ward D. Until this election, Fulop was thought to be strong in Ward B, because of his ally Freeholder Bill O’Dea, who is seen as powerful force there. Hallanan’s loss suggests otherwise.
Gonnelli will run for reelection
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli may have dashed the hopes of some old-time Democrats in his town when he announced this week that he intends to run for reelection as mayor next year, despite rumors he might not.
Potential political opponents believed that Gonnelli might not run partly due to health concerns, and partly because of a shift of personnel, such as appointment of 1st Ward Councilman Gary Jeffas as town administrator and the naming of school board trustee John Gerbasio to replace Jeffas on the Town Council.
But the school board election on Nov. 8 may have dispelled some sense of political weakness since Gonnelli’s arch rival, Tom Troyer failed to win a seat again.
The Democrats seeking to challenge Gonnelli in next year’s municipal elections also had a setback. One of the council candidates apparently decided not to run, apparently fearing some kind of retaliation against a family member who is employed by the town.
But this group says it still has qualified candidates especially in the 3rd Ward. While not yet solid, there is movement.
These Democrats are extremely unhappy with the current leadership and saw very little action in the Nov. 8 elections supporting the top of the ticket in Secaucus.
“When Rocky Impreveduto ran the party we had people working in all districts and had a great ground game, even in non contested elections Rocky had us get the vote out. The Democratic party did nothing for Clinton.”
Oops, a slight mistake
Hoboken City Hall apologized for what looked like using official phone lines to help lobby votes for a school board ticket endorsed by Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
In a race that has huge implications for the upcoming mayoral election in 2017, a marketing company took the blame for using City Hall’s phone number as its identification number when making robo-calls for the Forward Together school board ticket.
The apology the day before the election made it clear that the campaign fund, not city resources, were used to pay for the calls.
The firm said it obtained the number through a Google search. This makes you wonder if anyone was actually talking to anyone else in this campaign.
Critics, of course, believe that Zimmer only apologized because she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and would have suffered an extremely embarrassing political situation going into her reelection next year.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org