A slate allied with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo maintained control of the Roseland Democratic County Committee on Tuesday, fending off a challenge from a rival slate backed by former Gov. Richard Codey.
The Line A candidates, backed by DiVincenzo and the Essex County Democratic organization, won eight seats. Codey was able to win four seats – the ones at the New Borough Hall polling location where he stood most of Tuesday greeting voters.
In district 1, Codey’s son, Kevin, and his running mate, incumbent Manuela Gonnella, defeated former councilman John McGovern and Jennifer McGovern. John McGovern had been Codey’s legislative aide and business partner before the relationship turned sour.
Codey also won two seats in district 4, where Joseph Rolli and Susan Butterfield defeated George Meleas and Jessica Freda.
Julius “Jay” Coltre, a close DiVincenzo ally, now has the votes to win re-election as Democratic Municipal Chairman.
Control of the county committee is a trophy of little real value, other than a demonstration of who has the greatest testicular girth.
Codey has been going door-to-door for weeks, giving registered Democrats autographed copies of his book and seeking support for the slate of nine candidates he assembled for twelve seats. The former governor, who has served in the Legislature continuously since 1974, has run the campaign himself.
DiVincenzo has made Roseland a must-win and dispatched his top advisor, Phil Alagia, to run the campaign. Alagia has been one of the state’s top political strategists for more than fifteen years – his nearly full-time presence in Roseland for the last two months would be like Aaron Judge suddenly playing baseball for Seton Hall Prep.
The race turned even nastier last week when Codey dropped a direct mail piece that attacked Coltre, an ex-Newark cop and Essex County Undersheriff who has now emerged as a serious campaign manager in his own right.
In a contested Republican primary for mayor, Michael Pacio, a former mayor, defeated school board member Jean Perrotti by 104 votes in the Republican mayoral primary. He fill face Democrat James Spango in November.