A day after rival Andre Sayegh had a fundraiser with Bill Pascrell 3 and despite the dogging by the field about his inability to raise money, Mayoral candidate Alex Mendez said he feels fine.
He’s got this, he told InsiderNJ.
“The community is behind this campaign,” said Mendez. “We’re 26 days away, and everybody is fired up. Honestly, I have done this before. In 2014 I got almost 8k votes. These people – they’re not active in the community, and they’re doing the work in the community. I don’t wait until Election Day to go to the people. I am with the community. If they have to spend $100,000, it tells you something. I’m out there every single day. All I’m doing is going back to the voters.”
Giving up his at-large council seat to pursue the mayoralty, Mendez amid all the jeers by his rivals, insisted, “Funding is not a problem for us. Take a look at 2014 and all the financial support Andre got and he lost the election. We are ok. We feel good.”
Mendez said the big dollar donations will sink Sayegh.
“Absolutely,” he said. “His hands are going to be tied when he gets there. He won’t be able to represent the people. That’s the support I don’t want. He has money, not people.”
There’s a political back story.
In the 2012 CD9 Democratic Primary, Mendez – at that time a member of the school board – backed U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman over BP3’s father, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell.
There was no love lost in the aftermath between the Pascrells and the up and coming Dominican American future councilman.
“I don’t want to compromise this campaign,” he said. “I don’t want that kind of commitment from anybody, I just want the commitment from the community. I have to go inside City Hall with no resources, I just want ma and pa stores. I’m not looking for the big heavy hitters.”
His opponents insist he has a problem, reinforced by the fact that he sold his livery business and at the moment has only the financial succor of a job at city hall.
Mendez again tried to turn the perceived weakness into a strength.
“I’ve been a business owner for 12 years,” he told InsiderNJ. “We sold the livery business and we are in position to better learn about the issues really impacting the city. I am totally dedicated.”
Mendez’s rationale outside of Paterson might illicit laughs, a source noted.
But in Paterson, the electorate is unpredictable and not easily polled.
No one saw Jeff Jones with $50K upsetting Joey Torres with $1 million in 2010.
A lot of people wrote off Torres in 2014.
“No one works harder than Alex Mendez,” a source told InsiderNJ. “And that’s significant in Paterson. The trouble is, can he really ultimately work efficiently enough to win.”
The source noted the presence in the contest of former Deputy Mayor Pedro Rodriguez, a veteran campaigns handler who knows how to run an operation but lacks Mendez’s infectious charisma.
“Can Alex – with no money – run around and single-handedly knock on every door in Paterson and replace, with sheer running around, the signs that a conventional campaign would use? Maybe. But Pedro really knows how to put a campaign together. The trouble with these guys is their egos got in the way of what they really required, which is a partnership. IF you took Alex’s face and Pedro’s brain and put them together, they’d be unbeatable.”
Still, the presence of campaign manager Henry Sosa on Team Mendez counts for something significant, the source noted.
“Anywhere outside of Paterson I’d rather have [Sayegh field hand] Dave Parano, but in Paterson, you have to say Henry has an edge,” the source said.