NEWARK – Family.
That’s what Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo projected under the crossbeams in an all-weather tent pitched in Veterans Memorial Park, which looked sturdy enough to sustain a high wire act, but also sufficiently small in size to host a backyard family barbecue.
It was small enough to make the place looked packed.
Kicking off his reelection bid behind the Essex Hall of Records, DiVincenzo, in office for the past fifteen years, made Governor-elect Phil Murphy aware of all the deep love he possesses for that cadre of longstanding Joe D.-loving guys over-coated into the range of the photographers. And they responded in kind. The political safari expedition captained by Murphy glided into this everglade of supreme coziness bearing ominous Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber signs.
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) was under the tent flaps, too, and he and Murphy have already clashed.
“Anytime I called Bob on behalf of Essex County, he was the first one there,” said the county executive, a Democrat who claimed to have the support of all 22 local Democratic chairs in Essex as he and his chief of staff, Phil Alagia, this morning attempted to smother even the whiff of a run against him in 2018.
“I will always be with Bob Menendez, because he is the right person for the job,” he added.
Then he bucked up U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
“Cory Booker is still in Alabama, this is his twin,” DiVincenzo cracked. “In 2020, he will be the next President of the United States, you heard it from me first. And don’t ever forget it.”
Wasn’t Murphy, too, supposed to be in the mix for prez on the strength of his ability to command the national stage as one of two successful Democratic gubernatorial candidates last month?
DiVincenzo’s already with Booker.
Murphy took a speaking part following Lieutenant Governor-elect Sheila Oliver, who stood next to Sweeney, making his North Jersey debut since Murphy gonged his gubernatorial chances. “I thought I was going to have to go after Bob Menendez and Cory Booker,” Murphy said. “It’s worse. I have to go after Sheila Oliver.”
DiVincenzo heaped love on Sheriff Armando Fontoura, on South Ward institution Calvin West, on Star-Ledger columnist Tom Moran.
DiVincenzo loved Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones, and Jones loved DiVincenzo.
Booker loved Joe. D.
Menendez loved Joe D.
U.S. Rep. Donald Payne and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires loved the executive.
And he loved them.
Love and love and still more love in the small tent.
It was a morning of intense platonic love.
Relationships of many years flowered in the snow today, showing off even greater colors than before.
“He was not always on the right side of things, but he prayed a bit,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said of DiVincenzo, a reference to the executive’s decision to support Shavar Jeffries in the 2014 mayoral election.
Now they love each other.
DiVincenzo, who with impunity backed the reelection of Republican Governor Chris Christie in 2013, and who ate a $20K fine last week from ELEC, wanted Murphy to get the message.
“We got a 100,000 vote plurality for you in Essex County,” he told the governor-elect. “Anytime you have to make a decision – a difficult decision 0 remember that.”
There were, as yet, no visible challengers to DiVincenzo.
About an hour later, Murphy convened a press conference with Menendez and Booker.
“We’ve known each other for a lot of years,” the Governor-elect told reporters, referring to the two senators, a relationship Murphy described as “seamless.”