Democratic State Chairman John Currie will not run for Passaic County Clerk in 2018, according to several sources close to Currie and Passaic County Democrats.
Republicans are looking at several candidates to replace Acting Clerk Walter Davison, 76, who moved into the post after Kristin Corrado was elected to the State Senate last year. One potential candidate is Ronald Fava, a former assemblyman and Passaic County prosecutor.
Currie, the longtime Passaic County Democratic Chairman, has wanted to run for County Clerk. He had hoped Corrado’s move to the legislature would have created a special election in 2017, but Currie rivals like Senate President Steve Sweeney delayed the Corrado’s swearing past the deadline to run the office last year.
The key figure in this race is Peter Murphy, the onetime Passaic County Republican Chairman who was forced to resign in after being found guilty of mail fraud in 2001. The conviction was later overturned, and Murphy has led a powerful faction of Passaic County Republicans from his perch as the Totowa GOP municipal chairman. Murphy is one of the few municipal chairs in the state who can deliver huge pluralities in his hometown.
Corrado is allied with Murphy, and now Murphy wants to keep the County Clerk’s office – the one piece of county government he currently controls. Some Democrats don’t want to poke the bear – believing it’s better to let Murphy keep the clerk’s post and not have him suddenly declare war on them. Murphy has tentacles throughout Passaic County, including Paterson, where there is a technically non-partisan race for mayor in May.
Currie is not running himself, but seems intent on electing a Democratic county clerk. He is expected to go all in on this race.
Republicans are even more disunified. They haven’t won a freeholder race since 2009, and Corrado is the only Republican who has carried the county since then. The county chairman is John Traier, a former acting Commissioner of Banking and Insurance under Christie Whitman, but Traier does not necessarily control his own party line. That’s done through an executive committee where Murphy has more clout.
Fava, 68, last held pubic office seventeen years ago. He had been appointed acting Passaic County sheriff in 2001 when Ed Engelhardt resigned, and narrowly lost the general election. Fava tried for a comeback in 2006 as a freeholder candidate but dropped out when then-GOP County Chairman Michael Mecca declined to support him.
While Fava may have strong relationships that cross party lines – his godfather was the late Frank Graves, a former Paterson mayor and state senator – and I’m told that he and Currie are friends. That won’t matter – Currie want’s the office back until Democratic control.