Frank Hague’s Hudson looks like a miniature version of itself, with toy trains subbing for the kind of awesome atmospherics on display in the Hoboken Station scene of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America.
That said, they’re working on it, under the leadership of Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) Chairman Anthony Vainieri, elected chair in June.
It didn’t help Vainieri that his first big stumbling block came in the form of a scandal involving his predecessor, but they’re using that event too to polish up the chrome on the somewhat revamped, Vainieri-led organization.
One somewhat significant development is the transition away from Joey Muniz on HCDO matters.
Close to state Senator (and North Bergen Mayor) Nick Sacco, Muniz had a wide berth during the HCDO
chairmanship of Amy DeGise.
“He speaks for me,” then-Speaker Vinny Prieto told InsiderNJ years ago, pointing across the crowded floor at Casino in the Park to the solitary figure of Muniz, who emerged in a garrulous mood even as Prieto faded into the crowd.
Those days are over, said three sources in (mild) Hudson rebuild mode.
Vaineri and Muniz had a bit of a collision a few months ago, taking their grievances to the always reliably phlegmatic Sacco.
Sacco protects Muniz, but in the time since Vainieri became chair he reasserts loyalty to the party, which Vainieri leads.
To that end, Vainieri doesn’t want Muniz speaking for the HCDO anymore.
He and his team have had some summer meetings, and gone around to other party leaders and spoken clearly: Vainieri is the chair, and Craig Guy his right hand man. If it doesn’t come from them – or if it comes from Muniz – assume it to be outside the HCDO priority ballpark.
Hudson fell apart the last few years with different voices permeating and influencing on a variety of bills.
“We got divided and conquered,” a source told InsiderNJ.
Vainieri doesn’t want that.
So he’s made it clear – and Sacco has his back: go through him on party matters, not Muniz.
The mayors have the memo, too, of course.
If someone trying to get Vainieri cant reach him, they should go to Guy, sources said.
The HCDO has other matters of image and projection they want to address. Amid the thorny thicket of unresolved political issues and the rise of Middlesex, which makes Hudson look smaller by comparison, the HCDO seeks a reversal on an embarrassing recent history of poor election day production.
To that end, they’re sitting down in Union City at 3 p.m. to accelerate the process of figuring out how to generate better turnout in the coming November election.
It’s not insignificant that the meeting is scheduled in Union City, the domain of Mayor (and state Senator) Brian P. Stack, a dependable vote-producer in elections. An opponent of the HCDO in the past, who lost the chairmanship in a 2018 fight with DeGise, Stack now has closer ties to the Vainieri operation, or so it appears.
At least, everyone’s looking to make extra special nice.
Of course, boiled down, there aren’t too many major changes, but the deoxygenation on the organization front when it comes to Muniz represents at least one new wrinkle in the unfolding Vainieri era.