The rivalries in the room
By Max Pizarro | February 1st, 2013 - 10:45am
| More

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Marriott bar scene played out as it always does here, as old-school insiders knocked back drinks, sometimes with both hands, and youthful reporters roamed the carpet hoping to catch someone rolling around in a pool of his own vomit. 

Through the increasingly abstract shapes and colors, it was hard not to observe some of the most intense rivalries in New Jersey politics right now.

See below...

Frank Pallone versus Cory Booker - rival Democratic prospects for the 2014 U.S. Senate seat

The veteran congressman displayed good humored aplomb moving among the tables of sycophants, scoundrels, industry hangers-on and other assorted barflies. He never looked undignified, which is no small accomplishment in an environment in which every third person looks ready to go face down on the formica. Booker, meanwhile, was MIA, arguably not a bad thing, but given his twittering reputation  it was hard to picture him nursing a legitimate sense of moral indignation back in Newark's South Ward.   

Edge: Pallone.

Jerry Healy versus Steve Fulop - rival candidates in the May Jersey City Mayor's race

If the field of combat were a marathon challenge, ex-Marine Fulop would have a decided advantage. But even the swanky accommodations of the Marriott afforded tavern owner's son Healy a chance to look like everyone's favorite avuncular presence. Healy's main competition wasn't actually Fulop, but Passaic County Freeholder Terry Duffy and Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-20)

Edge: Healy

Nia Gill versus Phil Thigpen - the 34th District incumbent senator and the Chairman of the Essex County Democratic Committee 

The veteran Essex County chairman wants Gill gone. She doesn't raise money, seldom shows up at events unless it's close to election time, and appears to have disdain for the unctuous crumbums who populate the lower recesses of the human condition (ie., anyone connected to the mechanical side of politics). Gill is also in a primary with Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Alexander, who, like the senator, was at the Marriott working the room.

Thigpen wants to give the line to veteran Assemblyman/labor leader Tom Giblin (D-34), who has built respect in every quarter of the political game. Incidentally, Passaic County Dems Chairman John Currie likewise feels less than enamored of Gill's political brand. But heading into 2014 re-election, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo doesn't want to make an enemy of Gill, so he's very inclined to back her for the Essex County Democratic Party line.

Complicating matters for the establishment is East Orange Mayor Bob Bowser's decision to run again - off the line. The leader of the 34th District's biggest city has consistently won there as a maverick, which means if he forms an alliance with Alexander, the legislative incumbents could be in for a tough primary. Some party members are irritated that they will be called on to carry Gill, whose talent as a cross-examiner is not matched by her skill as a political pavement pounder. Thigpen can't promote Speaker Sheila Oliver to Senate without jeopardizing Essex County's leadership standing within the Legislature - so he's pushing sturdy soldier Giblin.

Edge: After all that, Gill - still. DiVincenzo doesn't want to abandon her and risk creating discord. Shortly after a hands behind the necks bar encounter with East Orange Democratic Party Leader Leroy Jones, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) reiterated his 1000% commitment to Gill's re-election.

Karen Mastriano versus Bob Auth and Rob Hermansen - 39th District GOP Assembly candidates

The latest manifestation of the divide in Bergen Republican politics pits veteran state Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39) against the people who opposed Bob Yudin in last year's chairman's battle. Cardinale backs Auth to fill the seat currently occupied by indicted Assemblyman Robert Schroeder, the most toxic person in Bergen politics right now. The senator's political enemy, former Assemblyman Rob Hermansen, is fighting for a place on Cardinale's ticket. His difficulty, though, is the presence of Karen Mastriano, a former Bergen County clerk of the freeholder board and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi's preferred candidate over Hermansen.

Edge: Auth. Cardinale's veteran support coupled with Hermansen entangling Mastriano or Mastriano entangling Hermansen puts Cardinale's candidate, a former aide, literally in the driver's seat to succeed the disgraced Schroeder.

Valerie Vainieri Huttle versus Jason Kim - 37th District Assemblywoman and Palisades Park Deputy Mayor

Veteran Palisades Park Dems Chairman Mike Pollotta wants Kim in the Assembly. Huttle's running mate, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37), appeared comfortable enough to be on the chamber trip, exhibiting no signs of cracking up under the pressure of Kim's play for 37th District Korean-American support. Huttle, meanwhile, was back in Bergen hitting the phone to county committee members, according to one bloodshot source at the bar.

Edge: toss-up.

Steve Sweeney versus the Assembly 

As payback for Ray Pocino supporting Gov. Chris Christie, the senate president wants to slap around the Laborers with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) bill that already has the lower house cringing. They'll back the bill, a source told PolitickerNJ.com, but only if the lower house exacts several protective amendments. Observing Democrats cannibalizing each other over support owned by the governor, Christie allies were howling.

Edge: Toss-up. 

Sheila Oliver versus Jon Bramnick 

Intent on making the most of Christie coattails, the GOP assembly minority leader was regaling barflies with stories of swinging party control and becoming the next speaker, ribbing a grinning Speaker Oliver in the process.

Edge: Oliver.

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 23, 2014

Colorado politicians invite Christie to experience 'Rocky Mountain High'Colorado politicians slapped back at Gov. Chris Christie after he questioned their Rocky Mountain quality of life under the rule of legalized marijuana.“Whether it’s hiking season or snow season, we invite Gov. Christie to experience Colorado’s quality of life anytime,"  Sen....

Op-Ed

How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

By HAYTHAM YOUNES As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I've noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren't around watching Paterson get to where it's at today. I think it's important that... Read More >

Contributors

(4-23-14) Bridgegate Witnesses Not "RATS" if Testimony is Forced -Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision last week was covered in most newspapers and blogs as an affirmation of the... more »
(Absecon Island, NJ) --With his shocking win in last year's election, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian emerged as one of the most intriguing figures in the New Jersey political... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

“The good news of tonight is that these problems are fixable.” - Gov. Chris Christie

- PolitickerNJ.com

Poll

Who would you back for Governor of NJ in this 2017 general election dream match-up?:

Resources

Visit the PolitickerNJ.com/resources page for links to the best collection of information on New Jersey state government.

 

  • Polls
  • The best blogs
  • Columnists
  • State election results
  • Assembly election results
  • Local party websites
  • And more.

PolitickerNJ.com/resources