On War Footing with Stack, DeGise and His Allies Party at Liberty House

JERSEY CITY – The woman on high heels scuffled into Liberty House and found the forearm of the Hudson insider scrunched at the bar and told him at close quarters, “There’s a weird guy outside, and I’m scared.

“What if he has a gun?” she added.

You could see the sag in the shoulders of a few of the others in earshot, like this was not going to be the day for them to go out into the middle of the dusty old west street to confront a stranger.

“Please,” the woman told the insider. “Go out there and ask him who he is.”

A few heads bowed over their drinks.

It was almost like a scene in High Noon, when the townsfolk abandon Gary Cooper.

The insider shoved his bar stool back, and there was no hat for him to grab as he sauntered out the double doors.

You half expected to hear a shot and then see someone dragging him back in by his boots. But a few minutes later he reappeared, all in one piece, and grinning.

“It’s just a guy from America Rising, a conservative PAC, taking pictures of this event, I guess to try to use against Bob [Menendez], like there might be someone from the mafia coming in here,” reported the brave man.

This is the way it was tonight at the fundraiser/kickoff of Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, who’s on war footing in the face of a decision by state Senator Brian P. Stack (D-33), Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and their allies to pull the plug on their support toward his 2018 reelection.

Tom, a source told InsiderNJ, made the mistake of routinely griping to Stack about his health problems, and Stack – a type A personality with a keen nose for political decay – assumed the county executive didn’t have much battery power left; but, as you can seem, the source insisted, he’s in good shape.

A week after Stack thumped his chest in the company of Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Bob Menendez and Senate President Steve Sweeney, DeGise burnished the county touchstone of Menendez, and projected warm body optics as he formally kicked off his reelection.

People in the room included U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), former Senator Bernie Kenny, Hudson County Sherriff Frank Schillari, Sacco ward Joey Muniz, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32), former Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, minder Michael Murphy, Menendez adviser Michael Soliman, the Swibinskis (Paul and Phil), Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano, former Bergen Freeholder Bernadette McPherson, Hoboken Councilman (and former Assemblyman) Ruben Ramos, Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco (who lost last year to Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who’s with Stack), Hoboken Councilwoman Jen Giattino (another 2017 mayoral casualty), Freeholder Anthony Vainieri, Bill Matsikoudis, former Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, former Assemblywoman Caridad Rodriguez, former Union City Mayor Rudy Garcia, and multiple Hudson types.

“You don’t get a Hudson County guy with one punch and I’m nowhere near going down,” DeGise told the crowd to robust cheers.


They packed the room downstairs, chatting about next Tuesday's Bayonne municipal contest with most in the room favoring incumbent Mayor Jimmy Davis over challenger former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-31), more than a few of them rubbing their hands together with the news about Governor Phil Murphy appearing with Davis tomorrow.

DeGise would himself comment on the contest to InsiderNJ.

The county is confident about the win on Tuesday, and claimed credit for Murphy coming in as a favor to Menendez, who wants Davis to pancake O’Donnell.

If O’Donnell beats Davis, or forces a runoff the way Davis forced a runoff with Smith, he will have dealt a dent to the power structure, and given a symbolic victory to Stack and company.

But for the moment, the main storyline went to the Hudson County executive, who could revel in pushing back against Stack’s power projection with his own Menendez-at-his-shoulder event.

As for Menendez, he was at Stack’s last week and DeGise’s tonight, loyal to both subjects who stood by him in his hour of need last year.

He doesn’t forget.

There were those who stood with him in public.

Stack actually went to the courtroom.

Every time the headlines grew more bleak, DeGise issued a statement doubling down on his support.

But just as he didn’t forget that O’Donnell bucked him once, back when Smith endorsed Nia Gill for Congress over DiVincenzo pick Donald Payne Jr. and embarrassed the boss in Essex, Menendez continues to harbor doubts about Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, his one time Democratic Primary challenger.

He’ll juggle the politics of trying to keep Stack and DeGise intact, which could boil down to getting a peace accord built around Stack backing DeGise for reelection next year, if DeGise throws in with Stack now. But just as Menendez apparently prime moved Murphy to stand with Davis tomorrow, Fulop – if one examines the logic of Menendez’s political thinking – would appear to be as expendable as O’Donnell.



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