With Sweeney Specter Looming, Another State Senator Paws at the Turf of a Northern County Chairmanship

Sweeney

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22) have a good political relationship.

“This young man right here is the future of the Democratic Party,” Green, standing on a makeshift stage, told Democrats in Plainfield in 2012 as Sweeney began to swim more avidly in the swamplands of North Jersey.

Green later mentioned to friends in the months leading up to the 2017 contest, “I just want to be chairman long enough to help decide who becomes the next governor.”

His predilection for old pal Sweeney became complicated when local brand name state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20) decided to retire from the senate and ride into the sunset with a quixotic gubernatorial campaign that essentially bottled up Union and reduced it to political irrelevancy in the bigger statewide pre-primary scheme.

Now that Green has resigned to repair his health, Sweeney backs state Senator Nick Scutari (D-22) to succeed him; even as state Senator Brian P. Stack (D-33) prepares to take over the chairmanship of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) from Sweeney’s rival former Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32).

Denied the governorship in 2017 when northern chairs bear-hugged Phil Murphy, Sweeney appears to have gone back to work, like the dutiful ironworker by trade that he is, to repair those political pieces he will need if he ever again endeavors to run statewide.

Hudson, Passaic, Bergen and Essex all backed Murphy last year.

All but assured the chairmanship in June with the support – announced earlier this week – of state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32) (Prieto’s power broker) – Stack will control a Hudson County that will be more amenable to Sweeney than was the Sacco-Prieto version of Hague-ville.

Certainly Sweeney will have to believe that Hudson will like him better than it did last time when Prieto was in charge.

Stack was so devoted to Sweeney last year that he led several busloads of campaign workers down to the senate president’s district, located in that region of New Jersey where two other senators in Sweeney’s caucus – Jim Beach and Fred Madden – chair the parties respectively in Camden and Cumberland.

Beach.

Madden.

Stack. On the bubble.

Now, here comes Scutari, looking to shoulder Union. And – maybe – Sweeney, come 2021.

If Sweeney can add Union and Hudson to South Jersey, he starts in a stronger position than he did in 2017.

Granted, he always had grand Essex designs.

He may have to supplant Hudson for Essex; or pressure Essex with the Stack-controlled Hudson.

Then there’s Union.

If the 33rd District-centric Stack simply wants first dibs on money for local projects, the ambitious Scutari might want the senate presidency in exchange for his support, and obviously Sweeney would have to keep an eye on that even as he would hope to make better positioned plays for support in Middlesex and, ultimately, Essex.

The question for state Senator Joe Cryan (D-20) as he enters the senate caucus is whether he wants to risk infuriating the already Scutari-affiliated and Drumthwacket-hungering Sweeney by pushing hard against Scutari with Acting Union County Democratic Committee Chair Colleen Mahr.

Of course, he can push hard with impunity and even enjoy the largesse of the Sweeney-controlled Senate – if Mahr finally – if it comes down to it – backs Sweeney for governor.

It’s early, but these are the political machinations under the hood just a week and change into the new regime of Governor Phil Murphy.

 

 

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2 responses to “With Sweeney Specter Looming, Another State Senator Paws at the Turf of a Northern County Chairmanship”

  1. Anyone aligning with Sweeney is going to end up as toxic as Sweeney. Inside the “power struggle bubble” they are blind to the outright disgust we rank and file democrats have with Christie’s lackey. 2018 is looking like the year his self aggrandizing misconduct comes into focus for the progressive wing of our party. With great power comes great responsibility and Sweeney has proven time and time again that he is irresponsible. Now that Christie is gone it’s time we have war trials for all his coconspirators.

  2. I completely agree with the observations and opinions expressed by Bill Brennan
    and must disagree with only certain select comments of Max Pizarro on the past
    and present Union County Democratic situation. First, Assemblyman Jerry Green achieved his expressed wish that you reported here that, “I just want to be chairman long enough to help decide who becomes the next governor.”

    Green and the Union County Democratic Organization endorsed and supported Phil Murphy
    for Governor in the June 6, 2017 Democratic Primary Election which he won by over 50% of the vote. And Green was the County Chairman when Murphy won Union County and was elected Governor in the
    November General Election as well.

    Pizarro had gone on to write; “His predilection for old pal Sweeney became complicated
    when local brand name state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20) decided to retire from
    the senate and ride into the sunset with a quixotic gubernatorial campaign that
    essentially bottled up Union and reduced it to political irrelevancy in the
    bigger statewide pre-primary scheme.”

    Well the facts belie that storyline in what I had just pointed out in Green and the Union County Democratic organization running Ray Lesniak over in their rush to support and make Murphy a “big runaway winner” in the County! Lesniak placed a distant fourth in Union County with barely 9% of the vote. Middlesex County Assemblyman John Wisniewski outpolled Lesniak by twice that amount.
    Lesniak was a total “non-factor” in last-year’s decision making for Governor and state legislature. If anything, it was a revolt and repudiation of his long dominant political influence in the county and
    state. Now he is attempting a “comeback” to political power through his longtime “alter ego,” Linden Sen. Nick Scutari, and his powerful ally, Senate President Steve Sweeney, the “Big Chess Piece” of
    South Jersey’s political power broker George Norcross, all avowed adversaries of the new Democratic Governor Phil Murphy.
    I am a big fan of Max Pizarro’s reports, analysis and writing style. They are always informative and entertaining. I just felt the need to correct what I thought was a misinterpretation of the true political storyline in Union County and what its implications are for our fledgling Democratic Governor.

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