The choice of Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis to replace Assembly Majority Whip Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Bayonne) in the 31st district has never voted in a Democratic primary.
William B. Sampson IV, a 32-year-old crane operator and Longshoremen’s union official, didn’t register to vote in Bayonne until 2012, when he was 24, and has missed four of the nine general elections since then, records from the New Jersey’s Statewide Voter Registration System.
Sampson didn’t vote in general elections in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2019, missing three of the last four races for the State Assembly seat he is currently seeking.
Chiaravalloti, once a top political ally of Davis, has fallen out of favor. Davis told party leaders that he wants to exercise his unwritten prerogative to name Bayonne’s representative in the legislature.
Sampson did not vote in the May 2014 municipal election when Davis ousted incumbent Mayor Mark Smith.
Hudson County Democratic leaders are prepared to honor an agreement that gives the seat to the mayor of Bayonne.
Chiaravalloti went to the legislature in 2015 after Davis picked him to replace Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-Bayonne). O’Donnell had been an ally of Smith, who was unseated by Davis in 2014.
Sampson’s failure to actually vote in elections came under the backdrop of his role as the political liaison to the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1588, which operates at the Port of Bayonne.
A 1:05 PM call to Sampson’s personal cell phone was promptly returned by his mother, who promised that the Assembly candidate would call back within an hour. He did not.
The fledgling candidate’s shoddy voting record could be a problem if there is a last ditch effort to save Chiaravalloti.
“Party leaders who go along with a broken candidate selection process run the risk of shooting themselves in the foot,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “It’s still more fodder for reformers who argue party leaders exercise their powers recklessly or with impunity, which by the way is incredibly frustrating for those who argue a party’s organizers do have a proper role to play in selecting candidates. This isn’t it.”
Still, the 31st district, which includes Bayonne and part of Jersey City, is one of the most heavily Democratic in the state. A Republican hasn’t represented Bayonne in the New Jersey legislature since GOP incumbents elected on Warren Harding’s coattails in 1920 all lost re-election in 1921.
In a resume supplied to Hudson County Democrats, Sampson touts his “great attendance,” his ability to “manage time effectively,” and his “proven ability to handle multiple priorities in an effective manner.” Among his “key qualifications,” Sampson says, is that he “adheres to policies and procedures at all times.”