It’s time for another InsiderNJ edition of Where are they Now, our attempt to chronicle the whereabouts of those
political souls who formerly could once be seen – prior to a shift in fortune – roaming the halls of the New Jersey Statehouse.
Today we consider former Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone of Bayonne.
A gadfly who fearlessly stood up to the power structure led by Bayonne Mayor Joe Doria, Chiappone served two stints in the legislature – the first from 2004-2005; and the second from 2007 until 2010.
An ally of the late JC Mayor Glenn Cunningham, the second iteration of his legislative career occurred in 2007, when Chiappone joined forces with Sandy Cunningham and L. Harvey Smith of Jersey City as part of a Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) unity ticket. He ran against Nick Chiaravalloti – former state director for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez – in a Bayonne bloodbath.
Chairavalloti (pictured, above right) ran off the Hudson line on a ticket headed by Assemblyman Lou Manzo, who squared off against Cunningham for the senate seat formerly occupied by Cunningham’s late husband.
Cunningham’s ticket won. But Chiappone’s time back in power was relatively short lived. In 2010, he folded out of the assembly after getting jammed up on charges of issuing over $8,000 in state-issued paychecks to campaign volunteers in 2005, then diverting the undisclosed money into his personal accounts and his campaign fund.
Chiappone’s fall from grace enabled the rise of Jason O’Donnell, a Bayonne tavern keeper and firefighter. O’Donnell had served as Chiaravalloti’s campaign manager in 2007, then ended up on the local winning team when Mark Smith – backed by Doria – won the mayoralty in Bayonne.
Smith installed his friend and trusted ally O’Donnell in the legislature. But when Smith lost his 2014 reelection bid to the quietly vengeful U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who backed alternative Jimmy Davis, Chiaravalloti in 2016 displaced his old friend O’Donnell and finally made it to Trenton – where he now serves as the assemblyman from Bayonne.
O’Donnell now works for Kivvit and is a talked about challenger to Davis in 2018.
As for Chiappone, the former assemblyman runs two floral shops, one in Brooklyn and one in Jersey City and, in the words of one Hudson insider, “is keeping a very low profile.”