Into the Vortex: Ten Key Developing Contests on June 5th – and Beyond

Hudson County 

Amy DeGise

Consider this. Running for reelection to the state senate, Brian P. Stack last year amassed 20K votes – doubling the totals of his Hudson senate counterparts – against a person named Beth Hamburger. Re-upping for mayor, he pulled in monster totals earlier this month in a local contest in which he had no opposition.  Now, in his race for the chairmanship of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), he has real opposition. Daughter of Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Jersey City School

Stack

Board Member Amy DeGise is running a scrappy – albeit late-start – campaign for the chairmanship, arguing that Stack’s close ties to former Republican Governor Chris Christie should make him a non-starter. The contest has put Stack in overdrive. Not content to rely on Mayor Steven Fulop’s assurances of county committee support in Jersey City, Stack door-knocked on the Friday night of Memorial Day Weekend. DeGise and company are convinced they can peel support out of Jersey City, but Stack has cards up his sleeves in West New York, where he’s making a real June 5th off-the-line effort to wrest votes, Bayonne (there are 103 votes in the maritime city, and Stack wants to chop in there and take some)  and Harrison (okay, only 22 total, but in a close race, depending on the June 5th outcome, they could be in play). The chairmanship’s contest unfolds against the backdrop of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) reelection campaign against retired pharma executive Bob Hugin, who’s already up on television hitting Menendez hard and presenting himself as an independent Republican. This is a heavy-lift election for Menendez. Stack and his allies argue that whatever the suburban dimensions of Menendez’s collision with Hugin in a state overwrought by President Donald J. Trump, Hudson will need overdrive production to protect Menendez against the possibility of a close contest in November with Hugin.

Menendez

Lambertville

Riding a #Me2 movement undercurrent, gifts officer for the Planned Parenthood Network Julia Fahl wants to take down 28-year incumbent Mayor Dave DelVecchio in the artsy town along the Delaware River. Running his most animated campaign in years, DelVecchio is trying to avoid a fate that befell longtime incumbent Mayors Ray Kimble and Adam Schneider in Belleville and Long Branch respectively on May 8th.

Englewood

Retiring Mayor Frank Huttle and the bulk of the local Democratic Party establishment backs Phil Meisner to succeed him as leader of the Bergen County burgh, even as former Mayor Michael Wildes wants his old job back. An avid campaigner and financially robust, Wildes is a very tough opponent for Meisner, sources say, as the race intensifies. The former mayor today slapped at Meisner’s public voting record, arguing that voting records show the mayoral hopeful has only vied in Englewood since 2015.

Trenton

Gusciora

This runoff election for the mayoralty of New Jersey’s capital city does not get done until June 12th – the same day the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) reorganizes. After security expert Paul Perez landed the endorsements of former mayoral candidate Darren “Freedom” Green and the Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo-led Building Trades Council, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora

Perez, left, and Green.

(D-15) offered a flurry of significant endorsements of his own, including mayoral candidates Walker Worthy and Duncan Harrison, Jr., and former Councilwoman Annette Lartigue. Sources last week said Gusciora’s campaign appeared strangely disconnected. As it turned out, the candidate was working behind the scenes to harvest critical support. It’s a real contest. This just in, Gusciora landed the backing of Trenton’s Latino Merchants Association. Gusciora told reporters on Tuesday night that he initially believed he had the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) but it was somewhat more nuanced, in his words, than full-throated support. The man thing, the candidate said, was he expected his colleague to be a strong supporter “in Washington.”

CD2

Owner of four of the eight county organization lines in his bid to succeed U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Hirsh Singh has weathered strong opposition since the convention season, especially from former Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-1), and – to a lesser extent – former FBI Special Agent Robert Turkavage. He still has an edge based on organization and money, but Singh has not overwhelmed the field, leaving open the question about a possible upset on June 5th. On the Democratic side, although state Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1) has had to bear the larger anti-gun glare, he owns eight out of eight party organization lines in an overall conservative-leaning district.

 CD11

Newcomer Peter DeNeufville came on late last week with some anti-Assemblyman Jay Webber mail, attempting to slow Webber’s momentum in a contest to gain Republican support to succeed U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11). If Weber scored early points on the third man in the primary, Tony Ghee, by pointedly questioning his Republican credentials, DeNeufville is making the case that the assemblyman tilts hard right, going so far as to oppose equal pay for equal work. The allies of DeNeufville and Ghee from the start argued that the staunchly pro-life Webber will prove less than ideologically ideal this year if he gets through the primary and has to make his case to succeed the moderate Frelinghuysen against retired Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill. But Webber remains the frontrunner.

CD5 

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) has $3.9 million cash on hand and a strong bipartisan record to run on, including symbiotic cross-the-aisle connections to U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7), who faces his own difficult contest this year. Both former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan ($523,309 cash on hand) and Bergen attorney John McCann ($46,208) want Republican backing to go up against Gottheimer, and have hit each other with abandon toward that end. The veteran Lonegan’s punches appear to carry more zip as he has repeatedly questioned McCann’s Republican fitness.

Harrison 

Incumbent Mayor James Fife wants four years on the clock but has to get through Councilman Anselmo Millam. Fife backs Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and, presumably, Amy DeGise for the HCDO chairmanship.  Millam backs Stack. If the countywide election is indeed close, the results of the Harrison mayor’s race could have an impact.

Linden

The June 5th mayor's race features incumbent Mayor Derek Armstead in search of four more years, trying to fend off the possibility of a second African American candidate, Councilwoman Rhashonna Cosby cutting into him and allowing Councilwoman Gretchen Hickey, backed by state Senator Nick Scutari and the local Democratic Organization, to gain an edge.

West Milford

Apparently Lonegan is still popular in the Passaic County, CD11 town. Not unexpectedly, he is doing well in the primary there against McCann in a municipality where Republicans routinely show up on Election Day. Sources say West Milford GOP leader Matt Conlon is a little jittery about holding onto his position because Lonegan is running a county committee slate and looking robust as they bear down on June 5th.
 
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