Michael Wildes, the Democratic mayor of Englewood and Melania Trump’s immigration lawyer, continues to show his fundraising prowess.
Wildes raised $50,000 in contributions and commitments for his 2021 re-election campaign.
He had $61,392 in unspent funds from his 2018 general election campaign.
Wildes spent $324,388 to win the Democratic primary against the organization choice, Englewood Democratic Municipal Chairman Phil Meisner – one of his campaign donors was Yoko Ono – and reported spending $44,682 to win 84% of the vote.
The fundraiser at the Casa Hispaniola Cigar Club was attended by Democratic State Chairman John Currie, former Bergen County Democratic Chairman Louis Stellato, and Fairview Public Works Director Paul Juliano – Stellato’s likely successor.
The event was headlined by actor Vincent Curatola, an Englewood native who played Johnny Sack on The Soprano’s TV series.
“I’ve always been a fan of pragmatism and leadership, and that’s what you get with Michael Wildes,” said Curatola. “We’re here for someone who does what he’s supposed to do, with no B.S.”
Wildes has $783,875 in a federal campaign warchest as he awaits an opportunity to run for federal office. The incumbent, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-Paterson) is 82, but shows no signs of leaving Congress anytime soon.
Running off the organization line, Wildes beat Meisner 2,675 to 1,504 – a margin of 1,171 votes – in a contentious and often nasty race.
Wildes was elected mayor in 2004 and re-elected in 2007. He did not seek re-election to a third term in 2010 and was succeeded by a rival, Frank Huttle.
Wildes found himself in the center of a national media firestorm during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump was accused of illegally working as a model in the United States. He came to Trump’s defense, writing a letter for Trump to release publicly, attesting to her legal immigration status.
A year later, Wildes went on television to oppose Trump’s immigration ban.
Wildes is a prodigious fundraiser. He has nearly $800,000 in a federal campaign account that was originally formed in case Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Englewood) jumped into a U.S. Senate race. Seven years ago, Wildes gave away $60,000 in a state account formed if Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) decided to retire.
A former federal prosecutor, Wildes runs a top immigration law firm in Manhattan. He defeated then-State Sen. Byron Baer (D-Englewood) in a vote of the Englewood Democratic screening committee for mayor in 2004, after Paul Fader resigned to become Jim McGreevey’s chief counsel.