DeFusco’s Challenge: Gearing Up for a Hoboken-sized Shot at Zimmer in the Context of Cammarano

Guys with names like Sharkey, Mooney and Nito and their ilk have been sitting shiva in Hoboken since 2009, when Peter Cammarano got ground…got ground into powder – and left the keys to city hall in the hands of a strangely un-Hoboken-like person, who, to the born and raised crowd, might just as easily occupy a detestable suburban enclave as pretend to residency in their beloved mile-square city.

Cops and fire and the like entrusted Cammarano with their city, and got kicked in the teeth for it when the kid got hauled off in handcuffs, and now there’s a new guy, a shiny new object guy on the horizon named DeFusco who apparently wants their vote to scrap Zimmer in the mayor’s office.

It’s a good name. we can live with that, you can almost hear the born and raised types saying on bar stools and bagel shops. But – someone else might just as quickly object – Cammarano was a good name too, dopey, and look what happened to him. Zimmer’s not corrupt. Kooky. Quirky. Nuts about stuff like bike paths and zip cars. But not corrupt. There’s no reason to stick our necks out for some other young so called up-and comer even if he does have a likeable name.

Michael DeFusco.

What else does he have?

Well, he’s a ward 1 councilman.

He also appeals to yuppies.

Yeah, but that’s Cammarano all over again. Wasn’t Cammarano a councilman, too?

What happened to Stick? Wasn’t Anthony “Stick” Romano going to run?

Nah. Stick got the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) line in exchange for not running for mayor.

Then Senator Brian P. Stack (D-33) – ever eager to impose a peaceable LD33 kingdom – came out with a sledgehammer endorsement of Zimmer and essentially scared away anyone who was thinking publicly getting behind DeFusco. What would be the point of going to war with the perpetual war for perpetual peace-minded Stack?

So DeFusco seemed to flounder.

But… but he’s raising money.

He raised nearly 90K in the first quarter. Then he has another $250K pledged, according to a source, a tidbit that might elicit laughs. “Pledged.” But the source stood firm on the point. There are rumors of a super PAC and some warpaint-wearing labor people ready to unleash the scorn they have felt over Zimmer. But it’s all yet to coalesce. Maybe it’s because the would-be challenger hasn’t pulled a team together with ease. Every time he seems close to landing the right balance of bodies on a ticket someone zigzags on him.

There may be some opportunities.

The Zimmer Team isn’t jumping for joy to have Councilman David Mello back on the ticket. They can stomach him for strategic purposes, but don’t really want him around. His attendance at meetings – not great. The trouble is if they dump him he could surface – suddenly flush with outrage and moral indignation – on the DeFusco team and give the challenger the chance to get a decent headline.

“Look at the disarray over there,” one could hear the challenger incredulously saying at a microphone.

Maybe it would be the sole traction Defusco could muster.

There’s some quiet division in Zimmer world, but DeFusco is in such uphill battle mode getting into this race that they don’t want to give him anything. If they wait for Defusco to assemble and announce his team, and the team doesn’t include Mello, then maybe they can dump Mello and suffer next to zero consequences. So there’s a little game of chicken going on right now.

And continuing frustration among the would-be allies of DeFusco.

Giggles over Zimmer persist. She doesn’t get along splendidly with the city council. Longtime allies who got to the governing body as reform-minded allies have, if they’re still around, settled into the roles of Hudson local lifers. Their slogans have grown muddy with time.

Can DeFusco capitalize?

Born and raised councilman Michael Russo used to be a suspenders-wearing local powerhouse, but he no longer avidly flexes those kinds of political muscles in public. Still, what do those St. Ann’s feast people do? The third and fifth ward people. Are there enough of them still around to mount an earnest Braveheart-like run at Zimmer behind the likes of the Cammarano-heartbroke Perry Belfiore if Perry gives a thumbs up in the direction of the first ward councilman?

What does longtime Zimmer antagonist Ruben Ramos, the former assemblyman, do?

The would-be challenger faces the additional thorny proposition of having to out-elbow another rival to Zimmer’s throne, Karen Nason, bucking for the in-crowd. But ultimately he’s up against that still stung set that stuck its neck out with Cammarano, only to find itself back among cobwebbed Frank Sinatra paraphernalia, in the wee small hours of a Zimmer-era Hoboken morning.


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