PATERSON – It’s unfair that Essex should more or less be relegated to an afterthought on this list, punished for staying unified in the mayor’s race – arguably the ultimate emblem of politics well done.

It goes without saying that Mayor Ras Baraka won big on Tuesday night (77.05% 21,490 votes to 22.64% 6,314 votes for challenger Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins), and so did the Essex County Democratic Party; the mayor’s victory forged, at its heart on the alliance with North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos.

Behind-the-Scenes Unity: Baraka Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad, At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana, and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos.

But it was a given it would go down that way, the would-be contest resulting in a Tuesday bore snore.

The mangled nature of Passaic politics, and scrambled political canvas that is Paterson itself by definition, make for lively fights, which by any standard outside the county or city would have to be regarded as a political horror show.

Not taking away from what Baraka did, which was considerable, we also put the emphasis today on competitive elections., however tangled and bitter they may appear elsewhere.

Then again, Newark was competitive citywide four years ago.

One never knows.

But for the moment, here’s…


From left: Deputy Chief of Staff Adam Alonso, Assemblyman Nick Chiaravallotti, Murphym and Davis.

Phil Murphy

The Governor of New Jersey played in Bayonne and Paterson, where both of his candidates won.

Gill, Joe Waks and North Bergen Commissioner Julio Marenco, partying at the Brownstone with Sayegh.

Although he claimed his appearance in Bayonne last week was strictly a governmental matter, his at-the-hip photo op with Davis amounted to an endorsement. In Paterson, ally Currie (see below), and key components of his 2017 gubernatorial campaign (including Brendan Gill, Dave Parano and Miguel Diaz) picked up the win with Andre Sayegh in a politically jagged city. Getting very technical about it, Murphy also pivoted last year from Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins and picked tonight’s crushing, runaway victor in Newark, incumbent Mayor Baraka.

Bob Menendez

The U.S. Senator wanted to celebrate that hung jury result with a local win in his home county of Hudson, and got one, as his candidate of choice Jimmy Davis avoided a runoff with Jason O’Donnell. Also boosted by the local win: U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, both of whom stood with Davis. Campaign manager Joe DeMarco kept a win streak alive, and Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti avoids the fate that befell predecessor Assemblyman O’Donnell (see below) when O’Donnell ally Mark Smith lost the Bayonne mayoralty after one term.

John Currie

Having fallen back to his home turf after clashes with Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), the chairman of the Democratic State Party Organization (who also leads as chairman of the Passaic County Dems and chairman of the Board of Elections) was a big winner in Paterson by virtue of Sayegh’s convincing party establishment-connected win. Also in the win column: Currie minder Keith Furlong, the Pascrells: the Congressman voted for Sayegh and BP3 fundraised for him. In support on Team Sayegh with endorsements from the Currie orbit, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter also won with Sayegh.

Andre Sayegh

Running for mayor of the Silk City for the third time, the Ward 6 Councilman vanquished Alex Mendez and Pedro Rodriguez to power walk his way to the second floor. Smart, well-educated and a thoroughgoing political animal, he has the potential to go beyond Paterson, and possibly lift the city in the process. An electrified campaigner, in some significant ways, he is the most obvious Silk City political heir to fellow Garrett Mountain diehard and former Mayor Bill Pascrell. Sayegh’s win was also a victory for coalition-building politics, as he defied his critics and used “relationships,” from the streets to the halls of power – his favorite word on the campaign trail, to win the election. It appears that the presence of two strongly campaigning Latinos running in the race in a majority Latino city – and a third (Alex Cruz, who worked hard but struggled early to move beyond a residency issue) helped Sayegh. The winner received 8,935 votes unofficially or 41,19%. Mendez (4,599), Rodriguez (3,559) and Cruz (875) add up to 9,033. Sayegh built his win across a broad coalition of Paterson’s diverse community, demonstrating throughout the campaign specific voter outreach to African Americans, Arabs, Latinos, Bengalis and others. His support from the African American community proved critical.

Al Abdel-aziz

Sayegh beat him ward-wide in 2016, but they teamed up this time, a political alliance that puts the leader of South Paterson’s Palestinians in the catbird seat to succeed Sayegh on the city council.

The Stack Team in Union City

Stack (11,023 votes tonight in a local election without opposition) has seasoned volunteers that will go anywhere he needs. Heading the GOTV Squad in Union City: Brian Stack, Justin Mercardo, Alex Velazquez, Melissa Berkawizi, Chris Albeiz, Wally Miqbel (with hundreds of volunteers through out the entire day).

John Pallone

The younger brother of Frank Pallone won in a landslide tonight in Long Branch, turning out an incumbent of nearly three decades – and he did from a hospital bed, having survived heart bypass surgery in the closing days of the campaign. Integral to Pallone’s success was political operative Mitch Seim, who ran an excellent campaign with some creative and effective mail that branded Schneider (See below) before he could react.

Jayed Rahman 

On top of every break in the action this season, the crack old school Paterson Times reporter proved the Fourth Estate’s crucial campaigns and elections role. You could make a strong case that his investigative pieces defined the election narrative as much as any other single factor.


Mendez Country

Alex Mendez

The charismatic at-large councilman in Paterson gave up his seat to run for mayor, and endured a maelstrom of bad headlines in the closing days on his way to coming up empty handed. Beaten decisively on the machines Tuesday, Mendez nonetheless refused to concede.

Bill McKoy

If he couldn’t be mayor himself, the 3rd Ward Councilman wanted Mendez – not Sayegh – to be mayor. That way he could avoid a rematch with Mendez in his 3rd Ward – where Mendez almost beat him in their first tilt.

Jason O’Donnell

The former Assemblyman came up short this time in his labor-aided bid to take down Menendez-connected incumbent Davis.

Ray Kimble and Adam Schneider

The two long-serving and seemingly entrenched mayors (Kimble in Belleville; Schneider ion Long Branch) both went down in defeat tonight, proving that in the case of Mike Melham and John Pallone at least, that sometimes you can beat City Hall.

Walker Worthy

It was heartbreaking, that razor-thin loss Reed Gusciora (who now will square off against Paul Perez). But Worthy finally had to own it, failing, with the Mercer County Democratic establishment – such as it is – to make the runoff election.

Augusto Amador

A member of the Baraka ticket who did not avoid a runoff election, which historically in Newark have not favored the incumbents who limp into them.

Joe McCallum

The incumbent West Ward Councilman – running on the Baraka Ticket – failed to avoid a runoff in Newark.

Lamonica McIver 

Baraka’s Central Ward Council candidate – running for the citywide vanquished Chaneyfield Jenkins -could not avoid a runoff election.

Adam Schneider

It’s tough to put him on the downside – all those wins, mayor of Long Branch for 28 years, but he finally went down in defeat. His loyal allies on the losing end tonight included Senator Declan O’Scanlon (who once served as Schneider’s campaign manager) and former Senator Jennifer Beck.

Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins

The Central Ward councilwoman gave up her seat to run for mayor, a campaign that never materialized as Baraka flattened her with 77.05% of the vote.


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