Bayonne election may impact Hudson Dem Chair Race
Among the many spoils in today’s Bayonne elections are 102 County Committee votes in next month’s election for Hudson County Democratic Chairman. Since city employees and their families occupy the bulk of the seats, the winner of the race for mayor will have considerable sway over where the county committee goes in June. Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Mayor Jimmy Davis have endorsed each other, and while Brian Stack has stayed out of Bayonne so far – to be clear, Stack was unhappy when Gov. Phil Murphy waded into Bayonne on Friday – the conventional wisdom is that a Jason O’Donnell victory is good news for Stack and bad news for DeGise. If the race goes to a runoff, watch the county chairman race to loom large.
The Long Branch mayoral election comes down to one question: has Adam Schneider overstayed his welcome after 28 years as mayor, or do voters view John Pallone as a nice guy to be a councilman but not the right person to serve as mayor? Long Branch has still not recovered from the bitterness of the 1994 Schneider vs. Pallone race.
For Frank Pallone, the results of tonight’s election could be a victory, but not a loss. Once close friends, the congressman and the mayor have hated each other for years. But insiders say that few people in Long Branch view Frank Pallone as a surrogate for his very different younger brother. A win would be a nice way for Frank Pallone to cap off a longtime rivalry, but a loss doesn’t change things for him – he’ll still be the ranking Democrat on one of the most powerful committees in Congress.
Long Branch and Belleville are the towns where the incumbent mayors are most vulnerable in today’s non-partisan municipal elections, and coincidentally, both mayors are Democrats who endorsed Chris Christie in 2013. In Belleville, three-term Mayor Ray Kimble faces a tough challenge from former councilman Michael Melham and school board member Liza Lopez. The conventional wisdom at the start was that Kimble and Melham would split the white vote and allow Lopez to take advantage of Belleville’s growing Hispanic community – up from 24% in 2000 to 45% in 2016 — and win. Now it’s looking more and more like a Kimble vs. Melham race. And Melham appears to have the ground game backing of Richard Yanuzzi, a longtime local insider who was sidelined recently due to a series of legal issues. If absentees come in heavily for Melham, that would be confirmation of Yanuzzi’s involvement.
History is on the side of Ras Baraka: Newark voters have never tossed a mayor after just one term. Hugh Addonizio ousted three-term incumbent Leo Carlin in 1962 with 62%, and then got forced into a runoff with after getting 49% in May 1966; he won the runoff with 71%. Ken Gibson ousted Addonizio in the 1970 runoff and held the job for sixteen years until Sharpe James beat him. James held off Cory Booker by seven points in 2002 and then retired.
For Ras Baraka, a win tonight may be defined not as much by the margin of his victory – which is expected to be substantial — but rather by the number of City Council seats that head to a runoff. Few expect the East Ward to produce a winner tonight, but races in the Central and West wards might. Baraka needs to come out of tonight with six of the nine council seats won; if more than three head to a runoff, it means Team Baraka will have fallen a little short of expectations.
Tonight’s election results in Newton might offer a glimpse of how voters feel about a loud-mouth who says stupid things on social media. On the ballot is Mayor Wayne Levante, who was censored in March after a Facebook post that alleged a “crisis actor” conspiracy after the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Levante and two other incumbents face four challengers for three seats on the Town Council. As a point of reference, Donald Trump won Newton by ten points, 55%-45% — his weakest showing in Sussex County.
The third time might be the one for Andre Sayegh, who is the front runner for mayor of Paterson after losing in 2010 and 2014. He ran in 2010 when Jeffrey Jones ousted incumbent Joey Torres by a 43%-40% margin – Sayegh got 17% — and again in 2014 when Torres made his comeback bid. Torres beat Sayegh 36%-29%, with Jones finishing fourth in a seven-candidate field. There is no runoff election in Paterson.