How Democratic is East Newark, where an off-the-line challenger ousted a 78-year-old mayor who has been in office since 1987?
Democrats have a 91%-1% voter registration edge in the smallest municipality in Hudson County.
Of the 690 registered voters in East Newark, 630 are Democrats and 9 are Republicans.
Turnout in Tuesday’s Democratic primary was 47%, was the highest in Hudson County.
Dina Grilo defeated eight-term incumbent Joseph Smith, the longest serving mayor in Hudson County, 175 to 144. The 31-vote plurality was a 10-point victory, 55%-45%.
Grilo was Smith’s first opponent in sixteen years and the mayor had the endorsement of the Hudson County Democratic organization.
Two takeaways that caught the attention of the New Jersey Globe:
* While 319 votes were cast in the race for mayor, just 171 voters picked a candidate in the race for county executive. Local politics drove turnout.
* An astounding 89% of Republicans turned out to vote in a Republican primary where there were no electoral contests and where the local GOP did not have any candidates. Real numbers: 8 of the 9 Republicans who live in East Newark showed up to vote in the off’est of off-years. Republicans can’t get the East Newark GOP chairman to teach GOTV to other towns, because there is none.
Smith, who comes from an old East Newark political family that helped found the borough when it split away from Kearny in 1895, was elected as a Republican when he ran the first time.
Smith spent eight years on the borough council and lost a 1983 Democratic mayoral primary to incumbent Raymond Graham, Sr. by 15 votes. He switched parties four years later, beat Graham in the general election by 61 votes, and then quickly switched back to the Democrats.