Sacco to Retire from Senate, Backs Stack

North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco

An era has formally come to an end in Hudson County with the announcement today by state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco that he will not be a candidate for the State Senate next year in the newly redrawn 33rd legislative district.

After serving in the State Senate since 1994, Sacco said he decided not to run for re-election several months ago after consulting with family and close friends, according to a release from the senator. He made the decision “long before the new districts were drawn” and he was placed into the same district as his colleague, Senator Brian Stack, the release noted.

Sources confirm that he had long talked about being done with Trenton, and tired of the commute and cloakroom politics of the current party regime.

As part of a deal struck with Senator Brian P. Stack, Sacco gets his choice of the HCDO chair and the new assemblyperson in the 33rd District.

Hudson County Commissioner Anthony Vainieri – brother of former Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri


Huttle – has the inside track for chair of the HCDO.

North Bergen Commissioner Julio Marenco has the inside track for an Assembly seat.

The two North Hudson power players conferred last night, along with Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and Vainieri.

They were the only four people at the table.

Today, they projected unity.

“Although I had planned to announce that I will not seek re-election to the State Senate in my own time

Julio Marenco

at a later date, it’s important to send a clear message now that Hudson County Democrats will remain united and to put any speculation about a divisive and unnecessary primary next year to rest,” said Sacco.

He said it has been an “honor and privilege” to serve in the legislature but that he plans to focus his efforts on his role leading the Township of North Bergen as Mayor. That’s why he “is very pleased to announce his support of Senator Stack in next year’s election.”

He’s up for local reelection next year.

“Now that North Bergen is in the 33rd district, I can’t think of a better person to represent our community than Brian Stack,” said Sacco. “Knowing that Brian will be there to fight for North Bergen and the entire district makes this endorsement an easy decision. Brian shares my commitment to public service and making government work for people, and he understands the demands of municipal government and the need for state government to deliver for our residents. I am proud to endorse Brian Stack and look forward to working with him in the years ahead.”

Stack thanked Sacco for his endorsement and praised his leadership, dedication to Hudson County and long record of legislative accomplishment. During his tenure in the State Senate, Sacco has sponsored landmark legislation related to essential priorities like economic development, public safety and much more.

“Nick Sacco is one of the most important leaders in our Democratic Party and I greatly value his experience, his judgment and his friendship,” said Stack. “By making this announcement, Senator Sacco is demonstrating his steadfast dedication to the people of Hudson County and to our Democratic Party. I appreciate his endorsement very much, and I plan to fully support him and his team in their local re-election campaign next year in North Bergen.”

Both State Senators expressed irritation with the way the Apportionment Commission and state leaders treated Hudson County, and bemoaned the decision to combine North Bergen and Union City and split West Hudson towns.

“If anyone thought that they could weaken Hudson County by attempting to divide and conquer us they were sadly mistaken,” said Sacco.

Stack added, “Thanks to Nick Sacco’s selfless decision, Hudson County Democrats have never been more united.”

The deal conceivably makes Stack the most powerful state senator in New Jersey, as the absorption of North Bergen into a district with Union City gives the already musclebound Stack a chance to bulk up considerably as an even more fearsome statewide elections kingmaker. It also demonstrates the power of a political relationship between Stack and his former state senate colleague, Port Authority Chairman

Kevin O'Toole, former senator from the 40th Legislative District, advises current and future politicians to have the courage to surround yourself with strong staff that are willing to stand up and tell you when you are wrong. Otherwise, they risk becoming disconnected from reality.

Kevin O’Toole, a Republican, who maintained close ties to the redistricting process through his acolyte, Redistricting Commission Co-Chair Al Barlas.

That relationship with O’Toole overtime helped Stack become closer to then Republican Governor Chris Christie, which helped the senator during those years but impaired his ability to become chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO).

In a matchup with Sacco’s candidate, sitting HCDO Chair Amy DeGise, Stack lost his bid to be chair.

Now, with Sacco at the edge of retirement and Stack in control of North Hudson, with his already strong ties to O’Toole strengthened, insiders will watch the power player around election time, and will wonder if the right conditions might again produce a possible Republican endorsement. Other sources convey the heads-up playing by Stack-allied forces on the commission to deny a seat in a redistricted 32nd to Sacco acolyte Joey Muniz, who has a bad reputation.

At the very least, Middlesex and Essex, whose alliance drove the Democrats’ redistricting strategy, will have to be on guard with a vastly expanded Stack on the North Jersey landscape. For the moment though, a source close to the power at the heart of those counties insist “we’re thrilled.”

UPDATE from the Hudson County View: Craig Guy, chief of staff to sitting Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, is in the mix to succeed his boss as county executive.

McCabe and Jones
McCabe and Jones, respectively leaders of Essex and Middlesex.
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