Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Zimmer Will Not Run for Hoboken Mayor Again

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Although she appeared to be in cruise control toward a third term in local office, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer will not run for reelection this year after all, InsiderNJ has learned.

The mayor is expected to drop out of the race in the coming hours and endorse Councilman Ravi Bhalla for the mayoralty.

The news triggers considerable speculation about Zimmer as a possible progressive candidate for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy. Zimmer’s departure from the local race at the least sets up a five-way contest among Bhalla, Hudson Freeholder Anthony Romano, Karen Nason, Ronaldo Bautista and Councilman Mike DeFusco.

The news comes just days after Murphy appeared in Hoboken for a fundraiser on the same night that DeFusco fundraised toward his mayoral challenge of Zimmer, sparking whispers about where Zimmer goes next. There is also speculation about the mayor departing to serve in a Murphy Administration, possibly as the head of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The possible pairing of Zimmer on a ticket with Murphy fascinates in part because of the mayor’s thorny history with Republican gubernatorial nominee Kim Guadagno. In the aftermath of the Bridgegate scandal, Zimmer accused Guadagno of pushing the interests of developers on behalf of Gov. Chris Christie’s cronies.

But Zimmer’s Guadagno-haunting presence as a running mate of Muprhy’s is strictly speculative right now.

What is known is that the mayor intends to bow out of the mayor’s race, which will no doubt create an explosion of local political interest to succeed her.

A darling of the 4th Ward yuppie zip car and dog-walking crowd, photographer-by-trade Zimmer came to power in 2009 following the meltdown on corruption charges of Mayor Peter Cammarano, who had edged Zimmer in that year’s local election. Cammarano had run with the backing of the old born and raised group, in part corralled by Perry Belfiore.

Zimmer’s win signaled a new era in Hoboken in which the mile-square city’s chief executive projected the exact opposite mood of the Frank Sinatra hold overs who populated the fire department poles and PD watering holes.

The speculation about an LG candidacy comes amid most insiders’ conclusion that Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter are dueling for the position. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one source noted that Zimmer would be able to project anti-corporate development progressive street cred on a statewide ticket with Murphy, doing her part to win the affections of bruised Jim Johnson Democratic Primary voters, while shielding Murphy from toxic Goldman Sachs splash, and intimidating Guadagno with echoes of their former alleged conversations. Murphy is said to genuinely like the mayor.

However, again, most Democratic sources are convinced that the Democratic nominee needs to put up an African-American woman to offset a clinging party narrative about three white males occupying the key leadership positions of the statehouse.

“Find it hard to believe it is for LG,” said one source close to Hoboken politics. “I think she was tired and wasn’t in for a slug fest.”

It’s volatile.

Trying to position himself as the next mayor, DeFusco had a fundraiser last week on the same night that Murphy came to town and partied with Zimmer. The councilman welcomed in Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15), members of the LBGQT community and Building Trades types for an event where he raised $75K.  But the Hudson View reported that Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano – who will attempt to inspire the born and raised crowd – is poised to get in the contest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By the end of the evening, a source close to Zimmer said the LG speculation has no merit, and that the mayor won’t be running on a ticket with Murphy, but could likely emerge in a Murphy cabinet. A second source said there have been no talks between the Murphy camp and Mayor Zimmer re. LG or a cabinet position.

Zimmer with Bhalla, and the Chairman of the Board.


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