JERSEY CITY – For those keeping score, it goes something like this: Steve Fulop got rid of Jerry Healy, then Phil Murphy got rid of Steve Fulop, and today a reanimated Healy, and Murphy, stood in triumphant relief against a backdrop of bagpipers and St. Patrick’s Day finery including Healy’s Tavern on Division Street and the inevitably approving figure of Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-34).
Eventually, even Fulop showed up, with a demeanor bespeaking of all is forgiven bliss.
“He’s the opposite of Jon Corzine,” Healy told InsiderNJ at the start of the one block parade, which makes a parody of nearly every other St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The former mayor of Jersey City pointed in the direction of Murphy, the friendly front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor, who had a grand marshal’s sash draped over one of his shoulders.
Republicans like Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli dismiss Murphy as another Goldman Sachs guying seeking the governorship as a rich man’s trophy – like Corzine.
Affixing the candidate with his own ultimate Irish imprimatur of authenticity, Healy said no way.
“He’s a people person, which doesn’t seem to be too in fashion these days in politics,” said the former mayor, who looked only too happy to stand near the gubernatorial candidate.
At a one on one meeting last year, Murphy apparently nudged Fulop out of the governor’s contest.
“I don’t know who I’m supporting for mayor,” Healy – beaten by Fulop in the Irish American’s bid for a third term in 2013 – beamed. “It’s too early yet.”
Foregoing governor in favor of Murphy, Fulop, of course, is running for reelection to his second term as mayor.
He looks to be in a strong position in a match-up with former Healy corporation counsel Bill Matsikoudis and former Assemblyman Charlie Mainor.
But Healy was coy outside the tavern where one of his sons expertly worked the taps.
When InsiderNJ prodded Hudson Freeholder Anthony “Stick’ Romano into a pic with Giblin, the assemblyman cracked, “Does that mean I have to endorse him?”
A self-professed Bobby Kennedy fan, Murphy leaned in to hear an Edward Edwards St. Patrick’s day question from InsiderNJ about why he favored Kennedy in the 1968 Democratic presidential primary over fellow Irish American Eugene McCarthy.
“My dad was a Lyndon Johnson person,” Murphy said. “My sister, who was about 21 at the time, was a huge Eugene McCarthy fan. People forget that Johnson won New Hampshire but he dropped out of the race. I was ten or 11 years old. I knew Vietnam was a troubled situation. On the one hand you stand with your soldiers and you stand on behalf of the security of your country. On the other hand it was tearing our country apart. So I knew that was going to continue to be the case. Johnson had stepped aside. I went to bobby. My dad went to Bobby. My brother went to Bobby. My sister eventually went to Bobby.
“Was one better than the other?” the gubernatorial candidate added, sizing up Kennedy and McCarthy. “I think there was a toughness about Bobby that Gene didn’t have. I couldn’t say there was an issue that differentiated them, but there was a toughness about Bobby. I think that was the difference. There was a toughness the country needed in a very fractured time. Right now reminds me of ’68.”
Murphy and his wife Tammy joined Healy and wife Maureen for the one block parade, which also included Giblin, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Hudson County Freeholder Junior Maldonado, and former Governor James McGreevey.
InsiderNJ asked Giblin about the all-time New Jersey political contests featuring Irish-Americans fighting for public office. The assemblyman noted Frank Hague (and Hague’s nephew Frank Hague Eggers) versus John V. Kenny in 1949, when the boss (and in this case his hand-picked successor) lost a grip of 30 years on the mayor’s seat. Giblin also cited Mercer Democrat Richard J. Hughes’ 50.37% to 48.74% victory in 1961 over Republican James P. Mitchell of Elizabeth.