There are probably a bunch of reasons why Bergen County Democrats are rushing to hold a special election for Sheriff in 2018, but here’s one that plays into their thinking:
Democrats widely view 2018 as a hugely favorable election year and think their best chance at holding the Sheriff’s office is to run a candidate in November. A 2018 special election adjusts the Sheriff election cycle to 2021 (a gubernatorial election year) and 2024 (a presidential election year), where voter turnout is higher and would tilt toward the Democrats. That could give Democrats a nine-year run.
Next year is less certain for the Democrats. With Assembly candidates heading the ticket, 2019 is expected to be a low turnout election. That creates added uncertainties, and Republicans might have a better chance of electing a Sheriff then.
Some Democrats say they want the bird in hand and not chance putting the Sheriff job in 2019, when they can’t foresee the political environment as easily as they can right now.
Democrats have held all seven seats on the Bergen County Board of Freeholders since 2016, when Maura DeNicola lost her re-election bid and a second GOP freeholder, John Felice, did not seek re-election. Three freeholder seats are up for re-election in 2019.
Saudino was the last standing Republican countywide official in Bergen. He was elected Sheriff in 2010 and re-elected in 2013 but switched parties in 2016 and got re-elected as a Democrat. He resigned as Sheriff after WNYC released audio tapes of Saudino making racist and homophobic comments.