JERSEY CITY – When redistricting put political heavyweights Nick Sacco and Brian Stack in the same 33rd District, the question was, what happens now?
Sacco and Stack are both state senators and mayors of North Bergen and Union City respectively. The similar-looking towns are across Kennedy Boulevard from each other, which set up the prospect of a nasty border war in this year’s primary.
That’s not going to happen.
As Anthony Vainieri, the Hudson County Democratic chair, put it, Sacco opted to back away and let a younger man, Stack, take the seat. For the record, Sacco is 76; Stack is 56.
He gave the impression it was all peaceful, saying on Saturday that whatever may have occurred in the past, “There is no more bickering … no more fighting.”
Vainieri commented on the truce at a gala, Hudson-style ceremony outside the county’s historic courthouse on Newark Avenue.
This was a day to introduce party-endorsed candidates in LD-32 and 33 plus the county executive candidate, Craig Guy. Endorsements in LD-31, the other district covering parts of the county will come later.
A few hundred people, some lucky enough to find space in a heated tent, amassed in front of the old courthouse.
Phil Murphy was there, albeit briefly.
He called Hudson County the “heartbeat” of New Jersey.
The state’s two senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, a Hudson County native, were there.
As were just-retired Congressman Albio Sires and his replacement, Robert Menendez Jr., who made it to Jersey City by 10 a.m. today despite being on the House floor in Washington until 2 a.m.
This contingent of party leaders were joined by dozens of county and municipal officials.
As the old saying goes, “Just about everybody who is anybody” was there, including Nicholas Scutari, of Union County, the Senate President.
Sacco was absent, reportedly because of illness.
Menendez Sr. praised him as an “incredible state senator.” Stack chimed in by leading the crowd in a cheer for Sacco.
The new map has something to do with it, but then there are the usual party machinations that ensue in Hudson just about every year.
That means there are some changes.
In LD-32 covering parts of Jersey City and Hoboken, the senate candidate is Raj Mukherji, who is now an assemblyman. The two Assembly candidates are Jessica Ramirez of Jersey City and John Allen of Hoboken. Left out of the mix is current Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro.
In LD-33, Stack is running again with two new Assembly candidates. They are Gabriel
Rodriguez, who is now the mayor of West New York, and Julio Marenco of North Bergen.
Left out are current Assembly members Pedro Mejia and Angelica Jimenez.
All the announced candidates, naturally, have to run in the June primary. They may be challenged, but those with the Hudson County Democratic Organization on their side have quite the advantage.
No political gathering today would be complete without comment about the just-ended fiasco in Washington.
Sires, who is now running for mayor of West New York, said he watched the drama until the wee hours of the morning on TV. He seemed delighted not to be there.
As for Menendez Jr., he was looking two years ahead to the next House election cycle.
“For four days House Democrats were united behind Hakeem Jeffries,” he said.
He predicted that in a few years, Jeffries will indeed be Speaker of the House.
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