Post Zimmer Hoboken: Descent Into the Local Maelstrom, and Murphy’s Silver Lining

She’s quirky, kooky and without any discernible doppelganger elsewhere in the New Jersey political universe.

She’s outgoing Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has rankled anew those Hudson politicians who had at last begun to get used to her as that fairly steadily weird presence in the mile-square city. She has a constituency of roughly half of Hoboken that adores her, who have followed her for ten years, roots that solidified when she improbably relieved Councilman Chris Campos of duty in the 2007 4th Ward race.

Now, she’s suddenly leaving, a figure whose support is non-transferable, in the words of multiple sources near City Hall.

She backed Councilman Ravi Bhalla earlier today, but Bhalla is an attorney with Florio Perruci who does public legal work and radiates transactional politics under the gleaming hood of loyal Zimmer trooper. Then there’s Council President Jen Giattino, whom emissaries of that reformer group have button-holed since InsiderNJ broke the Zimmer bombshell. They want the former professional ballet dancer and business owner to run for mayor this year. But there’s one big issue. Giattino is a Republican in a 4-1 Democratic town. Few of Zimmer’s crunchy granola backers will want to go with a representative of the Donald J. Trump Party.

With Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano poised to jump in the contest, Bhalla and Councilman Mike DeFusco already in, and others no doubt sizing up their chances, a Hoboken political scene that Zimmer had contributed to making pacific has turned into a conflagration and people – backers of hers – are mad.

“She’s just like [Steven] Fulop,” a source told InsiderNJ, referring to the way she exited the race and drawing a parallel to the way Fulop suddenly backed out of his gubernatorial bid last year, without notifying his supporters.

“I hate someone who acts that way,” the Hudson source said. “There were people loyal to Zimmer, and the way she handled this, leaves them out there, the same way Fulop did. Ultimately these people are more about themselves than organization. It’s not good.”

State Senator Brian P. Stack’s endorsement of Zimmer provided game changer optics to the mayor’s campaign. A source told InsiderNJ that Stack does not plan to back anyway right away, and intends to take a week to assess the developing scene of chaos. The Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), for its part, is lining up with Romano. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy held a fundraiser for Zimmer just last week. It’s inconvenient, but in Murphy’s case, that much strife in a Democratic city and the potential for handfuls of candidates to get in the contest will only spike the vote for Murphy toward better statewide totals.

At the end of the night, Murphy could end up with 7,000 votes out of Hoboken, compared to what might have been a ho hum election had Zimmer – who appeared to be in cruise control – run for reelection.

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