Dressel pledges union will back only Democrats if he replaces Ferriero

Dressel pledges union will back only Democrats if he replaces Ferriero
Union leader Buzz Dressel is expected to run for Bergen County Democratic Chairman if Joe Ferriero is ousted.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 164 endorsed Republican Henry McNamara for Bergen County Executive in 2002 at the request of Democratic powerhouse John Lynch, according to Richard "Buzz" Dressel, the business manager for the local.  Lynch, a former Senate President, is now serving a 39 month sentence after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

If there is contest to replace indicted Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero, Dressel is expected to face off against Michael Kasparian, a real estate developer and Democratic fundraiser with ties to Ferriero.  Dressel says the IBEW's endorsements of McNamara and GOP County Clerk Kathleen Donovan won't hamper his ability to replace Ferriero.  He says the union was backing McNamara because he was stronger in his opposition to the Xanadu project than the eventual winner, Democrat Dennis McNerney.  And he says even Ferriero tried to get Donovan to seek re-election last year as a Democrat.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), who met with Kasparian today, says Dressel shouldn't be penalized for a couple of union endorsements.

"That was his union, it wasn't specifically Buzzy," said Sarlo.   "Look, if the county committee picks him he would have to guarantee that all endorsements out of that union hall are Democratic."

At 3,500 members, Dressel's local is the largest electrical construction workers union in the state.

"That's the largest union in Bergen County, and the fact that he's the president could turn into a big positive for him," said Sarlo.

Dressel's union, whose campaign contributions included one to GOP gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler in 2001, will endorse only Democrats from now on.  "Without a doubt," he told PolitickerNJ.com.

"We need to bring credibility back to the Bergen County Democratic Party," added Dressel, a Commissioner of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. "This is not the Democratic Party my grandfather was a part of. We're supposed to be connecting people to the process, and that's what I want to do. I want to bring the party back together. I'd actually be calling for meetings and a transparent process. Meanwhile, there's somebody running against me who is unequivocally Joe Ferriero's clone."

On his way in to meet with Paramus developer and Democratic Party fundraiser Kasparian today, State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) dismissed the rumor of a conflict and said Dressell shouldn't be penalized for backing a Republican or two.

Read More >

Palatucci was a natural to become Bush's N.J. connection

Palatucci was a natural to become Bush's N.J. connection
Bill Palatucci, Chris Christie's former law partner, managed campaigns for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Tom Kean.

Democrats seem determined to tie former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie to President Bush if he becomes the Republican nominee for Governor, but Christie’s allies say that it was the ex-Prosecutor’s friend and top strategist, William Palatucci, who avidly championed Bush when he began running for President in the late 1990’s.

Christie, who was Palatucci’s law partner, raised money for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign as part of a bigger effort coordinated by Palatucci, a veteran Republican operative who ran campaigns for Ronald Reagan, Thomas Kean and George H.W. Bush.

“It’s hard to imagine the Democrats not using every opportunity possible to highlight the fact that Chris Christie was part of an effort that raised significant money for George W. Bush, one of the most unpopular politicians in a generation” said Ben Dworkin, director of the David Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “He’s had an outstanding career as U.S. Attorney. But the connection is different from the one the Democrats tried to use against U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance.”

Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood), the Democratic candidate for Congress against Lance, ran repeated TV ads of Lance’s face interposed with that of Bush.  Lance won by nine percentage points.

“But Christie’s different than Lance because Lance didn’t become an assemblyman and senator because George Bush picked him,” said Dworkin. “Christie became U.S. Attorney because George Bush did.”

The main strand of the Bush-Christie connection hinges on what for Palatucci was a fortuitous encounter with the younger Bush as the then-Texas governor geared up for his 2000 presidential campaign.

At that point, Palatucci’s relationship with the Bushes was already long and recurring, and it was in his role as the New Jersey chief of the presidential campaigns of Bush’s father that he developed a relationship with the younger Bush.

Read More >

Willie Brown dies at 68; served 12 terms as Assemblyman

Former Assembly Minority Leader Willie Brown passed away on Monday.    He was 68.  Brown spent 24 years representing Newark in the State Assembly.

First elected in 1973, at age 33, he was a member of a freshman Essex Assembly delegation that included Richard Codey.  He was re-elected eleven times.  He was the Assembly Minority Leader in 1988 and 1989.  When Democrats took control of the Assembly in 1989, the caucus picked Joseph Doria for Speaker and Wayne Bryant for Majority Leader; Brown became the Speaker Pro Tempore.

Read More >

Potential mayoral battle looms in Secaucus

Secaucus can seem a little out of place in Hudson County.

Despite the looming New York City skyline, the Meadowlands-buffered town of about 16,000 is far more suburban than most of its county counterparts and seems to share more in common with neighboring South Bergen towns than Jersey City.

But just because everybody knows everybody doesn’t mean politics here are polite, and a race with the potential to get ugly is already shaping up.

Mayor Dennis Elwell, a Democrat who’s serving out the end of his third term, plans to run again. He has the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, and isn’t expected to face much of a challenge in the primary, though local attorney Peter Weiner has told at least one Hudson County official that he intends to run for the party’s nomination. And Republican Frank MacCormack, the octogenarian who ran a long-shot campaign against Elwell in 2005, is so disenchanted with the county’s Republican organization that he does not plan to run again. The real challenge for Elwell will be if Councilman Michael Gonnelli runs.

Read More >

Bush taps three New Jerseyans as last minute appointees

President Bush made some last minute appointments that included three New Jerseyans: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and GOP fundraiser Cheryl Halpern were appointed to five-year terms on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. And the general manager of the New York Mets, Omar Minaya, was named to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Read More >

Between Newark and Elizabeth, the election year forces of Hillside begin to mobilize

Between Newark and Elizabeth, the election year forces of Hillside begin to mobilize
Hillside At-large Councilman Jerome Jewell prepares for Tuesday evening's council meeting.

HILLSIDE – Crammed between highways in an industrial terrain just beyond the grip of two oxygen-hoarding metropolises to north and south, Hillside has that forgotten city feeling, as if residing within its limits between Newark and Elizabeth were actually the ultimate New Jersey emblem of honor, where the ironic allusion to being disrespected comes with a special appreciation of big and rough edges.  

Indeed, if Newark can claim to be the triumphant birthplace of Red Badge of Courage author Stephen Crane, Hillside was handed the unhappy task of burying the 28-year old wunderkind in the local cemetery. 

Peruse the names of native silver screen personalities, and Hillside fares no better.  Newarkers can brag of living in the birthplace of tough guys like Ray Liota and Joe Pesci while Hillside provided the early stomping grounds for the brilliant if largely unknown actor Michael Gazzo, whose claim to fame was getting bumped off in the Godfather II.

Read More >

The Back Room

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: July 21st

  Winners and Losers: Week of July 14th The state takes a lot of well-deserved hits, let’s face it. But if you can shovel your way through the winters and the political sound-bites, you can get to the summers in New Jersey, which is where we are now –...

Sign up for the Wake Up Call

Get the latest New Jersey politics headlines delivered right to your inbox, every morning. Sign up for the PolitickerNJ Wake Up Call.


Legislation needed to restore balance in election financing

By JEFF BRINDLE Much has been written about the magnitude of campaign spending by independent special interest groups.  But until now, there has been little discussion about the impact. During the 2012 Presidential and Congressional contests,... Read More >


The Perry-Paul Debate is Healthy for the GOP – and for America  The foreign policy debate in the media between prospective GOP Presidential candidates Texas Governor Rick Perry and... more »
(7-16-14) Casinos in Jersey City, Not Sports Betting - Just as the US. Supreme Court was saying no to sports betting in New Jersey, a former Reebok chief executive... more »
(Washington DC)-- Two recent votes on Capitol Hill suggest an overdue and radical departure from our nation's Draconian and costly War on Drugs.  It's a long-overdue discussion (and not just... more »
New Jersey 2014 Primary Day Recap (6/4/14) - By the numbers. Worth the read for those interested in GOTV targeting and ballot position logistics.... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“Clearly President Putin has created the set of circumstances and has supplied the resources … to the rebels so that this tragedy could take place. For me, I think the West, including the [United States], has to have a far more significant response than we’ve seen to date.” - U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

- Fox News Sunday


Do you think Gov. Chris Christie's RGA travels benefit New Jersey?:


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.