The Roots of DeGise and the Ironies of Manzo-Healy

They say wild horses can’t keep certain personalities from politics, and Tom DeGise of the Heights did hire a horse and buggy with campaign paraphernalia to try to win that 2001 runoff for the Jersey City mayoralty. It didn’t work, and when he defeated DeGise, Mayor Glenn Cunningham became the new boss in Jersey City. Looking to unite the city, Healy brought in Cunningham widow Sandy Cunningham as part of an Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) unity ticket that froze out Manzo in 2007.

Manzo teamed with Stack, but couldn’t get over Cunningham’s Ward A and F numbers.

Just as Healy felt he had to keep the Cunningham name close to the engine room, Stack may have the same calculation as sources hum about Cunningham replacing DeGise next year, or at least in position to be asked.

It gets back to the central organizing principle of Hudson, namely that Glenn Cuningham’s death in 2004 would allow for the rise of North Hudson, and a Sacco-emergent Stack throne-sharing situation, under the auspices of that lordly presence otherwise known as Cunningham foe Bob Menendez.

In a nutshell, bifurcated North Hudson power saved Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise (Sacco) – and may yet bury him next year (Stack).

That pre-runoff race for the mayoralty was interesting because the field included Kevin Sluka, Bob Cavanaugh and Lou Manzo.

Running for an at-large seat that year was none other than municipal judge Jerry Healy, who initially didn’t want to run. Manzo pinned him against a wall and said you’ll never respect yourself Healy obliged. Ironically, Healy (barely) won. Manzo lost. Then on the other side of Cunningham’s death, Healy – with the toehold of city hall – beat Manzo for mayor.

That race gave birth to modern Hudson politics and transformed Menendez into a countywide force. Essentially everything stemmed from that election that exists today, and now Hudson is shifting again.

Even as DeGise bucks to stay in the rodeo, the next shift will be Stack in June, one diehard said.

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