DOVER – While an all-out intra-party war rages in Hudson County, a smaller conflict has brewed in Dover in Morris County.
The conflict there is fought with the incumbent mayor and his team on one side and the Morris County Democratic Party on the other.
The issue is about representation only in part. Though 70% of Dover residents are Latino, the town of roughly 18,000 has only one Latino alderman on its nine-member ruling body, with Mayor James Dodd included in that count.
“I do feel they’re underrepresented, and I do feel as county chairman, that we need an alderman board that better represents the community of Dover,” said Morris County Democratic Chairman Chip Robinson. “I don’t think the mayor has done enough for the Latino community in town. He would tell you otherwise.”
Robinson dropped the mayor’s slate of alderman candidates from the county line ahead of this year’s primary, replacing them with candidates running a slate of black and Latino candidates.
Dodd’s predominately white team also faces a challenge for control of the local Democratic party, where a slate led by Latino activist Edward Correa has filed candidates a full slate of candidates for county committee on the organization line. There are challenges for 22 of the 24 seats in an effort to depose Democratic Municipal Chairman James Visioli, a Dodd ally and an alderman.
The new candidates, in addition to the boost that comes with being on the county line, have thus far received campaign support from a number of high-profile visitors.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and House candidate Tom Malinowski spoke at a get out the vote for the challengers on Saturday, with the latter canvassing for them during the day.
ButrRace isn’t the only issue here. Robinson said that incumbents’ chronic absenteeism and support of former governor Chris Christie contributed – not insignificantly – to the withering of their county support.
But the decision to withdraw support wasn’t an easy one, Robinson said, and the county support won’t make Tuesday’s election a cakewalk for the county-christened challengers.
“I don’t believe that the governing group here in Dover has supported the values that we stand up for as Democrats,” Robinson said. “And, I feel that, with Donald Trump as president, it’s even more important than ever that we stand up for Latino communities like Dover.”