It’s been a month since Tom DeGise found out that Steve Fulop and Brian Stack wanted to dump him. He says it’s been the best month of his 25 years in politics.
“I’ve never had the reaction that I’m getting now,” DeGise said. “I was on line to get a hot dog. People were beeping their horn supporting me. The hot dog guy tells me to kick his (Fulop’s) ass.”
DeGise was elected Hudson County Executive in 2002, after two terms on the Jersey City Council and a nearly successful run for mayor. Now at 66-years-old, he’s fighting to keep his job amidst a Hudson County warette that some say could emerge as a full-fledged Democratic war in 2019.
“I got a fire in my belly. There’s no deal to be made,” DeGise told the New Jersey Globe, denying that there is a peace treaty in the works between the feuding factions in Hudson County politics.
What if Fulop and Stack had come to DeGise and asked him to retire, instead of discarding him in public?
“They didn’t have to do that. I would have went,” said DeGise. “Now I wouldn’t be able to look in the mirror if I didn’t fight back. I’m not going to let anyone push me from my own town.”
Fulop and Stack have not said who they plan to run against DeGise.
If DeGise could pick his own opponent, he says it would be Fulop.
“I wish he could grow some onions and run against me,” says DeGise. “It would be a whole lot more fun for me if we could fight this mano y mano.”
The decision to oppose his re-election came as a surprise to DeGise, even though the New Jersey Globe had reported that Fulop and Stack were plotting to oust him last January.
According to DeGise, Stack had urged him to run for re-election “two weeks before the opened the trap door.”
As for Fulop, the county executive says, “he never liked me.”
“He thought I was a threat. I was happy where I was. County Executive is more suited to my style,” said DeGise, who insists he has no interest in running for mayor in 2021.
But DeGise doesn’t like Fulop either and believes he’s not alone.
“Will Rogers said he never met a man he didn’t like,” DeGise said, with no humor in his voice. He didn’t meet Steve Fulop.”
Another point that DeGise wanted to make was that the Jersey City mayor has trouble getting along with his own team.
“He changes cabinet members as much as Donald Trump,” quipped DeGise.