Jose Torres

The mayors on Christie's RGA schedule: are they concerned?

The mayors on Christie's RGA schedule: are they concerned?

JERSEY – On the day the three mayors from New Jersey’s three biggest cities huddled up with a public vow to partner to fight crime, PolitickerNJ asked them if they weren’t a little alarmed about Gov. Chris Christie’s vigorous Republican Governors’ Association (RGA) schedule.

The governor is frequently in and out of the state on a robust mission to elect GOP governors around the country.

Do they sense a fall-off in statewide front-office vigilance?

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Faced with violent crime wave, Baraka, Fulop and Torres forge three-city partnership

Faced with violent crime wave, Baraka, Fulop and Torres forge three-city partnership

JERSEY CITY – And then there were three.

That’s what it looked like, at least, when a late-arriving and widely beaming Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in cream-colored suit joined political allies Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at a podium on MLK Boulevard and pledged partnership to an urban mayoral alliance to fight crime.

Murders in the state’s three biggest cities have Newark, Jersey City and Paterson – three-quarters of a million people - on high alert.

On one level, Baraka-Fulop-Torres showed the fiber of local urban governments.

But the threesome also appeared heavily tinged with politics. It’s hard not to note that both Fulop and the mayor’s rival in a budding gubernatorial drama, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), made a purse strings play for Torres love after their mutual first choice for mayor went belly up on May 13th.

Who was going to corral Torres as he settled into City Hall?

Today, it was Fulop – and his strongest ally, Baraka.

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Breaking: Speziale returning to Paterson to serve as Mayor Torres' police director

Breaking: Speziale returning to Paterson to serve as Mayor Torres' police director
Earlier today, Jerry Speziale, left, poses with Torres confidential aide Omar Rodriguez.

PATERSON - They say it's tough to get a decent slice of pizza in the south.

“There’s no pasta, that’s for sure,” cracked Jerry Speziale.

No offense to Prichard, Alabama, but Speziale wants to come home.

The former Passaic County Sheriff who fell out of favor with the Democratic Party establishment, bounced into a pair of blues at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on a GOP deal, and then ended up in a chief's uniform in the Yellowhammer State as he dealt with personal heartbreak, is returning to Paterson as police director in the administration of Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres.

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Heading into Tuesday, Currie says Sayegh-backers registered between 2,200 and 2,500 new voters

Heading into Tuesday, Currie says Sayegh-backers registered between 2,200 and 2,500 new voters
Paterson Councilman Ken McDaniel, on the ballot and in with Team Sayegh.

PATERSON – Passaic County Democratic Party Chairman John Currie said allies of Council President Andre Sayegh’s mayoral candidacy have registered between 2,200 and 2,500 new voters for tomorrow’s election.

Currie himself said he continues to personally hit the phones in an effort to drive up support for Sayegh, who’s running in a field of eight candidates that includes incumbent Mayor Jeff Jones and former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.

“Paterson is very important to me,” said the chairman. “I grew up in Paterson and I have wonderful memories of Paterson, and Andre Sayegh is the right person right now. Torres left the city and took $74,000 with him [in severance pay]. He left the city with legal battles that Jones is frankly still trying to clean up.

“Council President Sayegh is right for Paterson, and I am going to urge every Patersonian to go out and vote for Andre Sayegh,” he added.

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The cross-circuits of Democratic Party politics: past and future converge on tomorrow

The cross-circuits of Democratic Party politics: past and future converge on tomorrow
Paterson mayoral candidate Andre Sayegh and his wife and daughter attend a local church service on Sunday.

In this cycle, nursing confusions and mangled alliances from 2013 and intent on reformulating and hardening battle lines leading up to 2017, the statewide Democratic Party warred with itself locally, its internal divisions enhanced by overwhelming outside spending.  

The theaters all fit together – Paterson, Irvington, Trenton, Bayonne - and at the center stood Newark, in many ways the torque point for everything else.

Undiscovered territory undergirds these contests, specifically the amount of spending by independent expenditure groups: so far a total of $2.7 million in the cities – most of it ($2.6 million to date) in Newark; and the bulk of the Newark IE spending ($1.7 million) lined up in favor of establishment Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

The most independent spending locally prior to this year was $251,000 by Better Education for Our Kids (B4K) in the 2013 Jersey City mayor’s race.

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Wimberly defends his choice in Paterson mayor's race

Wimberly defends his choice in Paterson mayor's race
Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie - the longest-serving party chairman of a Democratic county committee - and now the state party chairman; impetus behind Wimberly's and other key party players' engagement on behalf of mayoral candidate Andre Sayegh.

PATERSON – This mayoral election has been unsettling – even agonizing - for Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35), Paterson, the man who might have run for mayor himself, who didn’t run and controversially backed another man for the job.

But amid a back boil of racial anger and street charges that he finds himself deflecting about loyalty and race-identity, on one level it’s getting easier for Wimberly now, he says – easier to fight for Council President Andre Sayegh, an Arab-American.

“You can be an albino transvestite from Yugoslavia and if you can get the job done, are competent, and can balance the budget, I will be with you,” said Wimberly.

Within a community that represents roughly 32% of the city, African-American leaders have pushed back against the assemblyman – who is black – protesting his affirmation of Democratic Party support for Sayegh.

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Battle stations Paterson: Canvassers in the streets, insiders on the phones

Battle stations Paterson: Canvassers in the streets, insiders on the phones

PATERSON - Downtown on Market Street the campaign headquarters of mayoral canddiate Jose "Joey" Torres had a full tilt swing to it in mid-afternoon on the Saturday before Election Day, as field commander Idida Rodriguez oversaw another outgoing battalion of canvassers.

Above the Great Falls in the 2nd Ward, home base of the former two-term mayor craving a return to City Hall, Torres workers in pairs of two walked the streets in door-to-door exercises on behalf of the candidate.

They weren't the only ones out there.

"Everyone's out today," said Rodriguez. "All the campaigns."

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Paterson Mayor's Race: McDaniel backs Sayegh; Codey in with Torres and COH

Paterson Mayor's Race: McDaniel backs Sayegh; Codey in with Torres and COH
Torres HQ on Friday afternoon.

PATERSON – The rain fell on the city.

In a battered headquarters downtown, a lone figure sat with his back to the door and a cord dangling from his ear.

“Este es Rigo Rodriguez,” said a voice emanating from the mouth that faced the wall.

“Para el alcalde.”

He was alone in the room, but for another man crunched against another wall on another phone.

“Poor Rigo,” is the assessment of rivals in this mayor’s contest, as if the retiring at-large councilman’s present condition of living under an indictment for voter fraud while running to serve as the city’s chief executive makes him more a candidate for sympathy than mayor.

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Heading into the Paterson Vortex: one week until Election Day; key teams, key players

Heading into the Paterson Vortex: one week until Election Day; key teams, key players

PATERSON – With one week to go before the May 13th Paterson Mayor’s election, colliding forces on the ground in the state’s ultimate retail politics town will look to a combination of financial resources and GOTV targeting as they seek a common destination: the chair of power on the second floor of City Hall.

Only one candidate will get there.

Below find a breakdown of the players and their strengths on those key teams gearing up for a showdown next Tuesday…

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Paterson Mayor’s Race: The Church, the Street and Premonitions of Victory

Paterson Mayor’s Race: The Church, the Street and Premonitions of Victory
Former Ward 2 Councilman Aslon Goow admires an ink drawing of the Great Falls presented to him by a supporter.

PATERSON – The same mayoral candidates this weekend juggled yet another misfiring microphone in yet another public forum defined mostly by the presence of empty chairs and operatives with sagging bags under their eyes, slouched shoulders - and uniformly in this brief break from door knocking with ten days to go - a deepened sense of urgency.

The visuals of dollars, players and television advertising once again threw the perception of this contest back onto two rival campaigns: that of former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, who as the most well-known Latino in a Latino-majority city has bulked up numerical advantages; and Council President Andre Sayegh, who runs with the support of the county Democratic Party.    

Leading the field with resources, the Sayegh Campaign on Friday launched its first TV ad of the season, singling out the $74,000 severance package Torres received when he departed from office – and the city payroll – in 2010. Eschewing the characterization of “negative,” Sayegh allies describe the ad as a “contrast piece,” because it closes with their own sunny alternative to Torres.  

Signifying frontrunner status, Torres has already been up on television; and it’s all positive.

On a Saturday afternoon, six of the eight candidates found themselves at the front of a Ward 2 Pentecostal Church run by the Rev. David Rios, who two years ago bucked the Passaic County Democratic Party when he aligned himself with Bergen’s Steve Rothman in the CD9 Primary.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: July 30th

  With looming deadline on bail reform, Christie calls Legislature into special session TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie is calling the legislature into special session Thursday to address recent bail reform legislation before a looming deadline next week, according to a letter from the governor’s office today. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)...

Op-Ed

The health of New Jersey's women is not Chris Christie's priority

By Linda Stender At his most recent town hall, Gov. Chris Christie accused his predecessors of "monkeying with the math" when it comes to their handling of our state's economy. But as the old saying goes, when the governor points a finger, he... Read More >

Contributors

(7-30-14) Who Is Best Equipped to Decide the Fate of the Common Core? - The latest Christie controversy surrounds his Executive Order to revamp the state’s academic... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... 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 »
(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 »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record

Poll

Who's right on the bail reform special session?:

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