Jimmy Davis suspected Nick Chiaravalloti was going to somehow get the drop on him.
The mayor had heard the chatter behind his back about how he was great for the ribbon cuttings but not for the fine points of deal-making, and while it may have suited that crust of guys in the establishment to have a guy in city hall who wasn’t manic about details – Davis was more than just that, too.
When he did choose to focus on something, he could punch back.
And that could be a problem.
He heard 31st District Assemblyman Chiaravalloti might shop around for another mayoral candidate in 2022.
He didn’t know if it was true.
People talk, God knows.
But he heard stuff.
He heard, for example, that Chiaravalloti and at least one of the assemblyman’s allies, had chatted with Bayonne Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski.
Her local political future.
The conversation alone was enough to agitate Davis.
Might they backdoor him with the council president?
Davis went into police work mode.
Who was at the meeting? What was said? What was agreed to?
It turned out to just be a big misunderstanding.
“Jimmy, please, you got it all wrong.”
That kind of thing. Just talking.
What, there’s a law against people talking in Bayonne?
People around Davis weren’t exactly convinced.
They wanted assurance from the council president that she wasn’t going to run against Jimmy. Apparently she said she wouldn’t. She planned to run for reelection with the mayor. But Davis still wasn’t comfortable. Ashe-Nadrowski. It was a potent political name combination in Bayonne. She also did a good job. And she was close to Chiaravalloti and company.
There were other things, too.
But that one connection rankled the mayor.
He needed more uniformity in the ranks.
So he exercised his prerogative this month and told his political allies he was prepared to give Chiaravalloti the heave-ho.
That was what Hudson mayors did, right?
If they didn’t like an assemblyman or decided to go in another direction, they hit the eject button.
Well, yes, sort of.
That’s what Sacco did. And Stack.
But Bayonne – Bayonne was different.
Hadn’t U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) committed heavily to Davis at the beginning, in 2014, to get rid of Mayor Mark Smith, who after all had decided at one point he could exercise his own political prerogatives?
Chiaravalloti had been Menendez’s state director.
He was close to the boss. Very close. Plus he was close to Joe Doria, and so much in Bayonne still revolved around the former mayor (and former speaker).
Jimmy could play mayor and even handle (some) of the x’s and o’s in City Hall. But when it came to stuff like this – he could not be the size of Stack and Sacco. They had ground games second to none in the state.
“Jimmy… you’re not that guy.”
But was he?
Smith thought he was that kind of guy.
A source said Davis could begin to expect to feel the impact of the government funding rug incrementally yanked out from under him over the course of the next three weeks – ahead of the candidates’ filing deadline – to remind him not to mess with the structure.
But Davis wanted to remind people too that if he didn’t exactly sweat every detail sometimes, he wasn’t about to get pushed around either, and, yes, he would return fire when someone tried to slap him or talk behind his back. He was the quiet guy at the end of the darkened bar, a source said, who shouldn’t be underestimated.