Long Branch Mayor John Pallone raised over $100,000 for his May 2022 re-election bid on Tuesday night and announced that his entire city council slate intends to run again.
Pallone, the brother of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch), ousted 28-year mayor Adam Schneider in 2018.
Schneider, a bitter Pallone political foe, lost 16 of 17 districts and Pallone won by a massive 62%-33% margin. Avery Grant, a former school board member, received 5%.
The event at the Butcher’s Block in Long Branch attracted State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Assemblymen Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), former Neptune Mayor and current county commissioner candidate Mike Beson, independent Eatontown Mayor Anthony Talerico, and Christina Zuk, who chaired John Pallone’s transition team three years ago.
Also at the event was former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, now a top executive at Apple. Jackson served as New Jersey Commissioner of Environmental Protection and had served as Gov. Jon Corzine’s chief of staff for just a few days before newly-elected President Barack Obama named her to his cabinet after the 2008 election.
Pallone’s re-election bid will be run by Mitchell Seim, a top political consultant who ran the 2018 campaign against Schneider.
Schneider found himself under fire for his relationships with developers, including the Kushner family, and for his refusal to back project labor agreements that caused several unions to jump into the fray in support of Pallone.
Even though the race is technically non-partisan, Long Branch is predominately Democratic, and Schneider was on the defensive after endorsing Republicans like Gov. Chris Christie and State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank).
Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli, who ran with Schneider five times before joining the Pallone slate, was the top vote-getter in 2018. She will be joined on the council slate by first-term incumbents, Rose Widdis, Bill Dangler, Mario Viera and Anita Voogt.
Three incumbents who ran with Schneider lost re-election bids: Joy Bastelli, Kate Billings and Michael Sirianni.
Frank Pallone and Schneider began their political careers as close friends and allies, but the relationship soon deteriorated amidst political squabbles in their hometown.
Pallone was a 30-year-old attorney when started his political career in Long Branch when he was elected to the city council in 1982. The following year, he won a State Senate seat in an upset victory against Republican incumbent Brian Kennedy.
After he was elected to Congress in 1988, he wanted Schneider to take his council seat. Mayor Philip Huhn broke a tie by appointing Bob Wainright to the seat. Pallone took the race so seriously that he pushed then-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Florio to come to Long Branch and endorse Schneider. Schneider beat Wainright in a 1989 special for Pallone’s unexpired term.
When Huhn decided not to run for re-election in 1990, Schneider was elected mayor. John Pallone, Frank’s younger brother, was elected councilman in the Schneider ticket.
The Pallone/Schneider alliance deteriorated over the next four years, some say because John Pallone wanted to do things – like buy a fire truck – and Schneider refused to cooperate. The blood became so bad that in John Pallone ran against the mayor in 1994.
Schneider beat Pallone by 530 votes, 3,226 to 2,606, with 475 votes going to a third candidate, Councilman Michael Palughi.
John Pallone returned to the city council in 2010, narrowly beating Schneider-backed candidate Al Menckin by about ten votes. He was re-elected in 2014.