WEST NEW YORK – An overcooked blues guitar riff accompanied the pigs in blankets cocktail hour with the Manhattan Skyline on the other side of the Hudson glinting as two people appeared to work it harder than an otherwise static room: Councilman Mike DeFusco and Council President Jen Giattino.
DeFusco’s already in the contest to succeed Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and Giattino is right at the edge of entering.
“We’ll be issuing a statement later this evening – something to the effect that we are exploring a run for mayor,” Giattino, a Republican, told InsiderNJ, as she hobnobbed with the gray suit and tie set of the Democratic Party establishment here.
“I ran as a Republican and I won my 6th Ward seat as a Republican, with Mayor Zimmer,” Giattino told InsiderNJ. “The people in Hoboken know I care about Hoboken. It’s not about party labels it’s about Hoboken.”
The statement appeared shortly after the encounter, in InsiderNJ’S in-box.
“Like many, I was surprised with the series of events this week in Hoboken starting with our Mayor Dawn Zimmer opting not to run for a third term,” Giattino said. “This week I have been humbled and honored by the outpouring of support from many friends, colleagues and people in our community who have expressed their support and encouraged me to run for Mayor. I am passionate about the future of our town and giving this serious consideration. I plan to publicly respond soon.”
She wouldn’t comment on her meeting earlier today with rival Councilman Ravi Bhalla, who has Zimmer’s support to succeed her.
“We’re friends,” was all she was willing to say about Bhalla.
For his part, DeFusco dove into the crowd of bodies around the bar, a group that included Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, former West New York Mayor Sal Vega, former Union City Mayor Rudy Garcia, Sacco operative Joey Muniz (pictured above), and DeGise COS Craig Guy. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy was due to arrive.
“We are still raising money as part of our ongoing effort that started last month,” DeFusco told InsiderNJ. “We are opening our campaign HQ Mondat morning and we have a complete campaign team. Listen, I made my intentions known that I was running for mayor because I had ideas and a contest that challenged the status quo. It was geared at Dawn and now it’s geared at Dawn’s two candidates. Both Jen and Ravi placed their faith in the status quo in Hoboken. They will try to spin that their different than Dawn but at the end of the day they’re with the status quo.
“I’m honored to have any endorsements to those open to issuing them,” he added. “In the end, though, Hoboken is a mile square. The people will decide what is the best for the future of Hoboken. I plan to knock on every door, and at the end of the day we’re fighting for a new vision for Hoboken. It’s always been my heart to do better in Hoboken , better than a career politician and politically connected lawyer like Ravi, or someone who followed in the footsteps of our previous mayor. They are not visionaries.”
A third would-be candidate who has not yet entered the race, Hudson County Freeholder Anthony “Stick” Romano, had hoped for the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) to get behind him, but they organization is in a holding pattern, in no small part unwilling to make a move until they get a signal from state Senator Brian P. Stack ((D-33).
Most camps are courting Stack right now.
But the mercurial senator – who felt burned by Zimmer, was not at DeGise’s fundraiser tonight. He was, in fact, at the opening of a fire for burn victims, and may decide to not get involved in Hoboken.