Carlos Rendo got a taste of the big leagues two years ago when Kim Guadagno picked him as the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of New Jersey.
Now he’s preparing for a fight to win re-election as mayor in Woodcliff Lake, a borough of 5,730 in northern Bergen County that has shifted from solidly Republican to swing town over the last few years. Rendo won his first mayoral election four year ago by just 12 votes.
Gov. Phil Murphy will be in Woodcliff Lake in two weeks to raise money for the local organization.
For Bergen County Democrats, beating the former statewide candidate in his own small town would be a trophy as they continue to pick up local seats in places that were once unwinnable for a Democrat.
Rendo tweeted that Murphy “wants to bring his high tax and Sanctuary State policies to Woodcliff Lake.”
“He is having a fundraiser for the Democratic candidate for mayor.”
That comes just days after Rendo publicly praised Murphy’s plan to increase school funding in Woodcliff Lake as part of his proposed state budget.
Guadagno had some advice for her former running mate.
“Just remind your town of Murphy’s Law: Any tax that can be raised, will be raised. Maybe update it to ‘has been raised.’” The former lieutenant governor tweeted on Thursday.
Murphy will attend the annual Democratic John F. Kennedy JFK Award dinner, not for a specific candidate.
Local Democrats have not decided on a mayoral candidate – the filing deadline is April 1 – although one of the four Democrats on the borough council could emerge as Rendo’s opponent.
In 2015, Rendo defeated Jeff Bader, a former Republican councilman who switched parties to run for mayor, and just barely won.
Two years, Guadagno plucked him from the political obscurity of a relatively new small town suburban mayor to become her running mate.
Rendo had a story that was attractive: born in Cuba, he came to the United States at age two as his family fled the Fidel Castro regime. He’s an immigration attorney who grew up in Union City and began his political career as a Republican candidate for Hudson County freeholder in 1993.
He moved to Woodcliff Lake seven years later and won a borough council seat in 2013.
Rendo did not exactly have coattails in Woodcliff Lake.
Guadagno and Rendo carried the borough by just 89 votes over Murphy and his running mate, Sheila Oliver.
State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) won Woodcliff Lake by only 26 votes – down from his 570 vote plurality four years earlier.
In 2018, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez carried Woodcliff Lake by 22 votes and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) won it by 654.
Democrats currently have a 5-1 majority on the borough council, with Democrat Angela Hayes and lone Republican Corrado Belgiovine up for re-election.
Some perspective on Woodcliff Lake’s changing demographics: fifteen years ago, George W. Bush won the borough by 2,531 votes against John Kerry; in 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by 405 votes.