At least four acolytes of powerful state Senator (and Mayor) Nick Sacco of North Bergen are quietly auditioning for
the boss’ attention as they anticipate a King Lear-like retirement in the next four or five years. Sacco’s running for senate again this year, but few locally believe he will serve another full term as mayor, and will at some point look to divide up his kingdom and leave his political sons the various sections of his accumulated power.
Here is how the next generation stacks up:
Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Vainieri. Insiders describe him as fiercely loyal to Sacco. But North Bergen’s Latino population has bloomed, leaving Vainieri allies worried about the Italian American’s demographic chances of ascending in local office. The plan right now is for a future legacy run for commissioner.
North Bergen Commissioner Allen Pascual. Sacco’s grandfathered in as a dual office holder, but none of his successors will be able to serve as both senator and mayor, unless the legislature revisits the dual office holding ban. Sources say the brainy and policy-wonky Pascual is the most obvious choice to undertake the role of Sacco successor in the state senate.
North Bergen Commissioner Hugo Cabrera. The machine has groomed the solid Cabrera as the local hydra head of the Sacco intellectual and political property; in other words, mayor.
North Bergen Commissioner Julio Marenco. If and when U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) retires, look for Marenco to make an aggressive stab at the congressional seat. A likeable inside player with deep community roots and statewide contacts, he will be a tough out. He could also find himself in the mix for county executive.
Then there’s Joey Muniz, the behind the scenes player whom two Hudson sources said has positioned himself to be a viable candidate to one day chair the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) currently helmed by Speaker Vincent Prieto 0f Secaucus.
All of it, of course, could crumble if they end up fighting one another and, in the process, empower businessman Larry Weinstein, who gave Team Sacco a tough fight in 2015.