A controversial referendum to restrict short-term rentals in Jersey City passed with 69% of the vote on Tuesday, offering a win to Mayor Steven Fulop in a race that attracted more than $5 million in TV ads, direct mail and a formidable ground operation.
It pitted the Airbnb-financed “Keep Our Homes” campaign against the New York City hotel industry and a powerful labor union, the Hotel Trades Council.
The referendum garnered 16,193 yes votes, with 7,201 voting no. The totals do not include provisional and vote-by-mail ballots.
Out of 183 voting districts in Jersey City, just 7 voted against the referendum, and in no part of the city did it fail by more than four votes. It passed easily in all six wards.
While the forces to approve the initiative – Fulop was joined by Gov. Phil Murphy, State Sen. Brian Stack and a majority of the city council – may have doomed the opposition from the start, some of the blame likely belong to one of Fulop’s former advisors.
Robert Sommer, a public relations consultant who had a nasty breakup with Fulop and others even before the collapse of the mayor’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign, was hired early on to work for Airbnb. He may have waited too long to forge a real campaign to blunt the referendum at the start.
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