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O’Donnell, Davis approaches differ on election day

Campaigns not concerned about poll center spat

By Nikita Biryukov, May 08 2018 6:59 pm

With less than an hour remaining before polls close, Bayonne’s mayoral candidates are still working the streets.

Canvassers for former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell’s campaign are just as numerous as they were several hours ago, far outnumbering those belonging to incumbent mayor Jimmy Davis. But Davis’s campaign is taking a different tack.

“Jason has a very large labor presence out on the streets, but that’s just visibility. it’s people standing on the corner handing stuff out,” Davis spokesman Phil Swibinski said. “I think it has pretty limited effectiveness. Our field effort is really focused on pulling people out that we’ve identified as supporters, so we’re really not putting much effort into visibility.”

As Swibinski put it, the O’Donnell campaign is working hard, while the Davis campaign is working smart, but it’d be unwise to underestimate O’Donnell’s canvassers, who could be seen walking the city’s streets in droves for much of the day – a labor for which they were paid $60.

It doesn’t seem like either campaigns efforts have swung the race’s turnout significantly. Polling officials said that turnout largely mimicked that of previous mayoral election years, something that the campaigns each thought would benefit them.

The elections here have historically been quite tight, and in 2014, a runoff was triggered after a third candidate got just 4% of the vote. The same could happen if longshot candidate Mitchell Brown finds support among even a fraction of the city’s voters.

In traditional Hudson County fashion, there appear to have been some election-related disturbances during the day.

“I just spoke to somebody at the board of elections,” O’Donnell told the Globe earlier in the day. “We were confronted by somebody from their team. This is election day. Emotions run high. People do things they wouldn’t do the day before or the day after. I don’t think there’s been anything to worry about.”

The conflict involved a war of words between two politically-opposed Bayonne residents that was recorded and posted to social media.

Swibinski agreed that, compared to happenings in past elections, today’s conflict was minor.

“There hasn’t been a fight, there hasn’t been a police call, as far as I’m aware of,” Swibinski said. “You know, a lot of times, especially in Hudson County, elections experience stuff like that, so I don’t think it’s been anything too out of the ordinary.”

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