Escape From Hudson County: What Democratic War Games Mean For Steven Fulop

So, the 900 members of the county committee of the Democratic Party of Hudson County (which is referred to as the Hudson County Democratic Organization) has chosen Amy DeGise as its leader for the next two years.

What’s that mean for people? We break it down into those who win, those who lose and the rest of us in purgatory.

And later, some unique analysis you won’t get anywhere else on what might be in the mind of the current Jersey City Mayor.

The Winners

Bob Menendez: Facing a deep pockets Republican challenger, Senator Menendez needs every vote, and he needs full attention from Hudson political machines. It seems there won’t be a countywide distraction now.

The obvious winner: Amy DeGise. Could she be a future officeholder? Could she beat Fulop in a future race? What if she decides to run for Congress (8th congressional district) and block Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop

Sandra Cunningham. She’s the Jersey City state senator (31st District) and widow of former Jersey City mayor Glenn Cunningham. Maybe she runs for Jersey City mayor (next election 2021, unless there’s a movement to recall Fulop). Could happen sooner than later.

Brian Stack. What? How’d he win? This is why — because he distinguished himself with his work ethic. Stack is still a turnout warrior without his former chief of staff. When hard work doesn’t work, that means the product is bad. Here, that means Stack’s ally Fulop was revealed to be less than dominant in terms of county committee support. Stack looks great by comparison — but Fulop doesn’t care! (Keep reading and you’ll see why!)


The Losers

CALL HIM MAYOR FLOP. In the span of two years, Jersey City’s mayor (for now) has suddenly dropped out of the race for Governor (leaving at the altar all sorts of Hudson elected officials), threatened to evict Tom DeGise, and lost a party chair election which he could not afford to lose. Each action alienated or angered people. Now the chickens are squawking and the tar is boiling.

The worst Flop was the estimated 65 no-shows out of Jersey City, while North Hudson towns had perfect attendance. I guess there were problems with the PATH to Kearny, or at least to Harrison.

Fulop is now neither liked nor respected, not even in his hometown. In a hypothetical matchup with Amy DeGise, do you honestly think Fulop would win? In our opinion, he is in danger of a recall as early as next spring. So, Mayor Flop, welcome to Le Chateau Bow-wow.

More on Fulop’s future below.

Felix Roque. I wonder if his opponents shouldn’t try to recall him before the next general election in West New York, which is in 11 months. The reason? A recall gives Roque less time to build a new organization to fight the official party. I wonder if he doesn’t just retire. He is wealthy, and at some point, a smart man says there are better ways to squander your hard-earned wealth besides making political consultants rich when they run your losing campaigns.
North Bergen Opposition. The North Bergen machine will now (presumably) be able to exert its undivided attention against any potential opponent in the 2019 municipal election, instead of having its resources divided to fight to re-elect County Executive Tom DeGise.
Junior Maldonado. Bet on the wrong horse. Plus, the County Clerk’s website isn’t run as smoothly as it was run under predecessor Barbara Netchert. Just in office a few months, it’s never good when you’re noticed, for things declining so soon after taking over. Better not keep any green bananas in your Cornelison Avenue digs.
Mark Albiez. Chief of staff for Fulop, former chief of staff for Stack. When you jump from one electoral powerhouse (Stack) to a different guy, and then you can’t carry over the results, that shows your former candidate was the driving force behind those wins, instead of it being your work and your skill. So, Stack looks good, Fulop doesn’t care how he looks, and Albiez looks like he brings no value-added. Sad!

So, what’s next for Mayor Fulop?

So before you call him Mayor Flop for his co-leadership role in threatening the existing County Executive with replacement, understand a couple of things.
First, Fulop didn’t care about losing, because he wants to get out of the county, and certainly out of Jersey City. That’s because Steven Fulop is of a different class than most people in this County, with exceptions for the Hudson River coast and Hoboken, and he is also of a different class than just about everyone in the county Democratic Party. He doesn’t fit in, and, to be honest, he knows that. This isn’t a putdown; it’s a fact.
Second, for Fulop, losing any county battle carried no risk. That’s because being mayor of Jersey City for the next three years means he can build his progressive credentials as mayor to build a platform for federal office, maybe even for President or a Cabinet position in the next Democratic-run White House. As mayor of the second-largest city in the state, he simply does not need anyone else.
But why do this now? It’s all about clearing a path for him to run for federal office, either the House (the 8th congressional district held by Albio Sires) or Senate. The thought was that having an ally run the county party would allow for the official party line to go to him, not Sires, in 2020. But there is another escape-from-Hudson-County option here. That’s the Senate seat currently held by Cory Booker.
Now, Booker’s up for re-election in 2020 and, under current state election law, cannot run for both Senate and President. That’s because both offices are nominated by petition for primary elections on the same day, and that’s not allowed under the state election law (N.J.S.A. 19:3-5.1).
So here’s what we think will happen.
1. Fulop will soon open a federal campaign committee for Senate.
2. Fulop will take a prominent role in boosting any trial balloon for Cory Booker for president.
3. A backup plan might be a House run in 2020.
The dates to watch are March 2020. That’s the month during which the presidential primaries (including Super Tuesday) will be at their peak, when candidates survive the cut down the stretch. That means that Cory Booker, if he runs and if he survives the first few primaries, has to decide by the end of that month if he is running for President in the New Jersey primary (the first Tuesday that June), or for United States Senate in the primary that same day. Petitions must be filed the first Monday in April, and 1,000 signatures is a task that can be accomplished statewide (or even countywide) in a matter of hours.