A power struggle is brewing in LD 31


While there is harmony among members of the Hudson County Democrat Organization in North Hudson, the same cannot be said in Jersey City as the legislative elections are already heating up in LD 31 and it is going to get interesting very quickly.

Essentially, there will be 2 assembly seats up for grabs according to various sources countywide and therein lies the problem in this scenario. Traditionally, the seats are divided up between the border of Bayonne and Jersey City. The mayors of the two Hudson County municipalities select one Assembly seat each, according to the district’s unwritten rules, which have unofficially been in place for decades. Residents who are familiar with the political landscape of Hudson County know this unequivocally. Coming up this election season, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis is supposedly backing Nicholas Chiaravalloti, who supported Davis in the 2014 Bayonne mayoral race, over the incumbent Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-31), who supported former Mayor Mark Smith. O’Donnell’s allegiance to Smith is ultimately costing him here and it’s been widely reported, O’Donnell isn’t very popular locally or even in Trenton. As a result, O’Donnell will be casualty here and privately within the Hudson County Democrat Organization, this is being perceived as one less headache to endure this election cycle. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, is supposedly backing Joyce Watterman, a Jersey City Councilwoman-At-Large. Watterman ran on Fulop’s ticket in 2013 and certainly, this alliance should be a surprise to no one. Based on this selection by Fulop, Watterman would replace incumbent Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31), who has consistently shown his opposition to Fulop, going as far as supporting former Mayor Jerramiah Healy in the 2013 Jersey City mayoral election, which Fulop trounced Healy in ultimately. Mainor’s loyalty to Healy and this possible move could simply become the nail in the coffin for Mainor’s political career in Hudson County. 

However, there is the wild card in this equation and it rests solely with State Senator Sandra Cunnnigham (D-31) as sources have told Hudson County TV. Apparently, Cunningham, is upset she was not consulted on this matter by both Fulop and State Assembly Speaker Vinny Prieto (D-32) who is also the Hudson County Democrat Organization (HCDO) Chairman, concerning the selection of Watterman for one of the aforementioned seats. Hence, rumors are circulating Cunningham is quite comfortable running Mainor and O’Donnell against Watterman and Chiaravalloti in an eventual primary. Reports are circulating Watterman is perceived to be a threat to Cunningham in future elections concerning that State Senate seat, but right now this appears to be speculation. How the HCDO handles this potential division will be interesting because mayors and other elected officials throughout the county might have to pick sides in this showdown. Essentially, this is going to come down to who can exert the most influence concerning the ticket and ultimately, who will bring the turnout for specific candidates. Certainly, this will be a test for State Senator Cunningham, Mayors Fulop and Davis as well Chairman Prieto as to who will leave the eventual June primary with the most political clout.

Anonymous sources informed Hudson County TV a meeting between Fulop, Prieto and Cunningham did indeed take place in December at an undisclosed location where all parties discussed the matter in detail. In the coming months, political battle lines will be drawn and it’s quite possible the HCDO could be thrown into turmoil once again with these developments. With not only a contentious mayoral election approaching in West New York and quite possibly in North Bergen also, this political conflict in South Hudson could have an enormous effect on where allegiances will reside in 2015.