It will all come down to Bayonne, the operative insisted, crammed amid labor brass and tough and craggy local faces in the bowels of the Knights of Columbus Hall for former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell’s mayoral kickoff. The election isn’t until next year, but on it potentially rides the leadership of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) and, conceivably, the hopes of the next (or sitting) county executive.
The question was not so much whether O’Donnell or Mayor Jimmy Davis will win.
It’s whether Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack (D-33) chooses to get involved and at long last strip the county away from state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32). There’s some continuing talk about Stack pawing at the turf to take over the HCDO, and possibly to turn Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise out of office.
The numbers appeared on a bar napkin:
820 total county committee seats in Hudson.
Jersey City has 372;
Union City 64
North Bergen 78
“The rest all belongs to Nick – West Hudson,” the operative said.
If Stack and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop team up, the votes they muster total what Sacco has on the other end of the equation.
“Bayonne,” the operative said. “Bayonne will be the swing vote.”
InsiderNJ pointed out that if Stack really wanted to do damage, he’d play in Hoboken, a town in his own district.
“Nah,” the source said. “No one knows who’s going to win that [2017 mayoral] race, first of all. And anyway, half of Hoboken is controlled by [Councilman Michael] Russo. No. If Stack really wants to take over Hudson once and for all, Bayonne is in play.”
Having dumped 180 of his own people into seats over the course of the last year, Fulop now thumps his chest over his tightened hand on the committee in Jersey City. But questions linger about depth of loyalty. With Stack and Union City, there is no doubt.
The HCDO will likely stay fastened to incumbent Mayor Davis, as O’Donnell attempts to amass pockets of support both locally and externally to take the war to City Hall.
His event tonight impressed insiders, some of whom question whether Davis will even make the finish line as the candidate, though Davis’ allies strenuously resist that notion. The candidate’s sister insisted on having a better batting average than her brother when they grew up in the wharf town, while the family patriarch, Neil, described O’Donnell as a person who cares more about people than power, a sentiment that truly irritates Davis’ supporters.
“I, like you, have remained because I believe Bayonne is worth fighting for,” said O’Donnell, when he took the microphone from Kerry, his wife of 16 years. He addressed a crowd of about 250, who leafed through the “Character and Commitment” hand-out while listening.
“It is time for a new fight – a fight to save the city we love,” said the candidate, promising to stand up to “bad development deals” for the sake of “those struggling to make ends meet.”
The operative in the back of the room sipped a cocktail and raised his eyebrows, if this local statement merely only hinted at the larger frontiers of countywide power.
“Bayonne,” he said. “It all boils down to Bayonne.”