The Ramos Imbroglio, and the Larger Implications of Stick World in Hudson

The negotiations between sitting Hudson County Freeholder Anthony “Stick” Romano and Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) advance men (or a reasonable facsimile thereof, more on that in a moment) continue in Hudson, with a familiar name entering the newest round of talks.

Former Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-33) – now a Hoboken councilman – may enter the Democratic Primary for


freeholder this year if the allies of Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco can’t secure an absolute, in-cement agreement from Romano that he won’t run for mayor this year against incumbent Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Romano is reluctant to agree. And he has veteran operative Pablo Fonseca with him, who, too, exercises extreme caution here. Stick won off the line three years ago, but that was against a little known, Zimmer-allied attorney named Phil Cohen. Ramos has not only been around for over ten years, but he himself won off the line in 2007 (albeit with Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack at the top of the LD33 ticket).

Ramos v. Romano for freeholder looks possible right now unless Romano can summon that mayoral handshake.

But the currents run deeper – and are more complex.

A source told InsiderNJ that Joey Muniz of North Bergen – a politically well-connected, fierce DeFusco backer – has a good relationship with Ramos and may be that primary nudge behind the assemblyman to get him into the freeholder contest if Romano refuses to drop out of his own mayoral bid. Muniz wants DeFusco to have a clear path to a mano a mano with Zimmer, and doesn’t want “Stick” muddying the contest.

Muniz is so bullish on DeFusco, in fact, that one of his allies recently had words with Phil Murphy for Governor minder Brendan Gill about Murphy’s support for Zimmer. The message-deliver for Muniz told Gill that the gubernatorial candidate should not align himself with Zimmer as long as Muniz wants DeFusco.

Muniz could have his own political challenges if he empowered Ramos.

Powerful LD33 Senator Stack jettisoned Ramos from the line after Ramos voted against Gov. Chris Christie‘s pension overhaul.

Ramos evidently had told Stack that he would do him a solid by voting for the pension overhaul, then endured a chew out from his wife, who told him that as a teacher he couldn’t, in good conscience, vote for the overhaul. That conversation propelled Ramos into Trenton to reverse his promise to Stack (and Christie) and register a nay vote on pensions.

Stack dumped him.

Now, the former assemblyman is Muniz’s ace in the hole to ensure that stick Romano stays out of the Hoboken mayor’s race; except Stack – a rigid political scorekeeper – may not be in love with a reinvigorated Ramos in the LD33 vineyard. Or maybe he’s so powerful that he simply doesn’t care.

Yet still, Muniz belongs to the team of Stack’s old rival, state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32), and while Stack and Sacco have formed an alliance going back to 2010, Stack probably is not enamored of Sacco’s prime operatives collecting the mayor’s seat in Stack’s district.



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