Tom DeGise said he was happy to support Brian Stack for Hudson County Democratic Chairman – pleased that the Union City mayor had lined up the support he needed to get the job.
That was before Stack made his move to replace DeGise as the Hudson County Executive.
“I pulled my support for Stack the minute he told me,” DeGise said. “Even though they fucked us, screwed us, ambushed us — they still expected me to support them? The deal was off the minute they told me they wanted to make a change.”
DeGise says he’s part of a group of Democrats recruiting a candidate to challenge Stack, who is also a state Senator, when the Hudson Democratic organization meets in June to pick replacement for Vincent Prieto. DeGise says he’s not ready to name his candidate yet.
What surprises DeGise the most, he says, is that Stack had the chairmanship in the bag.
“He could have walked in,” said DeGise. “Instead he picked a fight. He awakened a sleeping giant.”
DeGise says he doesn’t understand why Stack decided to go after him before the race for county chairman was over.
“We’ve had peace for ten years. We kept the lid on ancient rivalries. Contained things. Settled things. These guys are as diplomatic as a sledgehammer,” DeGise said.
And the county executive promises that he’ll settle the score.
“There will be casualties because of their greed,” he said. “There’s going to be a price for this. We’re gonna try to stop Brian in his tracks.”
For DeGise, it’s hardly fire and brimstone. The guy appears genuinely hurt by the way Stack treated him.
“I trusted him. Considered him to be my friend,” DeGise explained. “Stack wanted jobs, access to Department of Public Works equipment. I was there for him.”
He said that if he lived in Union City, he would vote for Stack for mayor.
“He’s good at what he does, but he fails at everything else,” DeGise said. “Like integrity.”
So now the 66-year-old DeGise, who might have gone quietly – maybe a job at the Port Authority, he said, and spent some time enjoying the new house he’s purchased at the Jersey shore – is suddenly reveling in his role in ensuring that Stack never serves as county chairman.
“I’m the guy whose gonna take this guy on and fight. (Jersey City mayor) Steve Fulop is wallowing around, can’t get out of it.” DeGise said.
DeGise insists that the numbers look good for a win against Stack. He said he likes his chances in West New York, where Democrats are running a full slate of county committee candidates against Mayor Felix Roque, a Stack supporter.
“We should do well,” he predicted. “And we’ll pitch a shutout in West Hudson.”
DeGise also thinks the Stack/Fulop alliance has some kinks in the armor. He thinks there are county committee votes to be picked up in Jersey City and Hoboken, where newly-elected mayor Ravi Bhalla is backing Stack.
“Ravi is a 32% mayor,” DeGise said of Bhalla’s 32.75% win in a six-candidate field last November. “I have major council support. I got Ruben Ramos.”
At a recent event, DeGise said he had some words of advice for Bhalla while taking a clear shot at Fulop and Stack – and Stack’s trademark Thanksgiving giveaway.
“They’re both users, they’ll cast your aside,” DeGise said he told Bhalla. “You just got yourself a lifetime supply of turkeys.”