The Last Time Cunningham had a Strong Challenge in LD31 (and some Bayonne History)

We don’t know if Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City) primaries her district mate state Senator Sandy Cunningham (D-31) this season.

Despite signs springing up in Jersey City tonight, McKnight seemed as baffled as anyone by the prospect of the veteran senator getting dumped from the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) line in favor of herself.

If true, the match-up begs comparisons to the last time the widow of former Mayor Glenn Cunningham faced a tough adversary.

It was 2007. Ten years ago.

Running for the senate seat for the first time, Cunningham had the support of the HCDO as she went up against Assemblyman Lou Manzo (D-31). Manzo led a 31st District ticket that was affiliated with Assemblyman Brian Stack’s renegade team in LD32.

In a tough fought battle, Cunningham prevailed over Manzo; 55.8 to 44.2%.

“I feel like a ton of bricks fell on me,” the defeated Manzo told NJN.

On the losing ticket that year was Nick Chiaravalloti, who would go on to win the Bayonne LD31 seat in 2015 following the retirement of Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell.

O’Donnell had worked as Chiaravalloti’s campaign manager against the successful 2007 Cunningham slate mate Tony Chiappone.

O’Donnell would go on to replace Chiappone when corruption charges bounced Chiappone out of office, and then yield to his old pal Chiaravalloti following the loss of O’Donnell pal Mayor Mark Smith to the Chiaravalloti-backed Jimmy Davis in the 2014 Bayonne municipal race.

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