Turnout is higher than usual in Roseland, where two of the state’s most powerful Democrats are locked in an acrimonious battle for control of the local Democratic organization in a town of less than 6,000 people now controlled by Republicans.
Both Democratic factions have a full presence at Roseland’s three polling locations, and former Gov. Richard Codey has been standing outside one of them all shaking hands and drumming up votes for his son, Kevin, a real estate developer who is seeking a county committee seat in Roseland’s 1st district.
Roseland is the hometown of Codey and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, two who absolutely despise each other. Control of the county committee is a trophy of little real value, other than a demonstration of who has the greatest testicular girth.
Codey has been going door-to-door for weeks, giving registered Democrats autographed copies of his book and seeking support for the slate of nine candidates he assembled for twelve seats. The former governor, who has served in the Legislature continuously since 1974, has run the campaign himself.
DiVincenzo has made Roseland a must-win and dispatched his top advisor, Phil Alagia, to run the campaign. Alagia has been one of the state’s top political strategists for more than fifteen years – his nearly full-time presence in Roseland for the last two months would be like Aaron Judge suddenly playing baseball for Seton Hall Prep.
The race turned even nastier last week when Codey dropped a direct mail piece that attacked the character of Democratic municipal chairman Julius “Jay” Coltre, a top DiVincenzo ally. Coltre, an ex-Newark cop and Essex County Undersheriff, has now emerged as a serious campaign manager in his own right.