Amy DeGise was elected Hudson County Democratic chair, defeating Union City Mayor Brian Stack by a vote of 452 to 360, a 92-vote margin that ends the warette from becoming a full-fledged war in 2019.
The biggest loser in the expensive and often nasty intra-party battle was Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who was unable to deliver more than half of Jersey City’s 362 county committee votes to Stack. Sources from both sides estimate that Stack won Jersey City by an approximate vote of 160 to 135 on Tuesday night.
“This was not Brian Stack’s loss,” one prominent Democrat told the New Jersey Globe on Tuesday night. “This was Steve Fulop’s fault.”
Fulop was criticized by Stack supporters for failing to deliver what he promised. He was inexplicably absent from the campaign trail, attending a mayors conference in Boston last weekend.
Amy DeGise’s election paves the way for her father, Thomas DeGise, to win re-election to a sixth term as Hudson County Executive next year.
Source say that Amy and Tom DeGise plan to welcome Stack and his supporters into the organization, except for Fulop. There will be no place for the tattered Jersey City mayor in the Hudson County Democratic organization.
Stack, a source said, has no plans to pursue his battle against Tom DeGise.
DeGise quickly called for unity.
“No matter what side you are on, this is all of our homes, we are all in this together,” DeGise said. “There is room for everyone here. Nobody has taken any times. No one has taken any sides. Tomorrow we hit the reset button.”
DeGise benefitted from a big turnout from Bayonne – about 98 of the 102 seats – and near unanimous turnout from North Bergen, Kearny, Secaucus and Harrison. Stack won big margins out of Union City and Hoboken but struggled in Jersey City because Fulop was unable to deliver.
The warette began in March when Fulop and Stack told Tom DeGise that they would not support him for another term and brought Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and West New York Mayor Felix Roque into their coalition. The electoral math of those four towns appeared to give Stack a lock on the chairmanship.
DeGise quickly rallied support from North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Rep. Albio Sires, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis and five West Hudson mayors. He began to reduce Stack’s numbers by shifting West New York to his column – an energized Sires, who had been threatened with a primary challenge – wound up winning 50 of 58 county committee seats that went to Amy DeGise.
Democrats now want to move past the fight, which at times got extraordinarily personal, and focus on the general election.
“Our goal is to put the party back together to help Bob Menendez,” said Craig Guy, chief of staff to the county executive.
DeGise, a teacher and Jersey City Board of Education member, becomes the first woman to serve as Hudson County Democratic Chair.