Jersey City Mayor’s Race: What Makes a Democrat a Democrat?

Promoted back up top, because this was posted late-late last night. – Rosi

It’s difficult to imagine a Republican getting elected as the mayor of Jersey City*, the largest city in true blue Hudson County. So what are conservatives to do when they want to make inroads in the Democratic stronghold? (You know, other than call Union City Mayor and Chris Christie Superfan Brian Stack.) They find a Democrat who can be wooed.

At least that’s what seems to be happening in Hudson County, where current councilman and long-time mayoral hopeful Steven Fulop is attempting to unseat incumbent Jerramiah Healy. And despite having run and served as a Democrat throughout his career in Jersey City, Fulop is receiving funding and political support from his connections among Monmouth County Republicans. This story first emerged in December when it was revealed that a former Executive Director of the NJ Republican State Party and counsel to the Romney campaign  – Brian Nelson – had been soliciting contributions for a Fulop fundraiser. Then, this week, Monmouth County Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon pushed out a press blast specifically targeting Jersey City’s use of red light cameras, despite the fact that such cameras are in use throughout the state and in municipalities much closer to O’Scanlon’s than Jersey City.

All of this comes months after a leaked email from Fulop revealed that he was meeting secretly with Christie’s Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf and Fulop’s hand-picked Board of Education members. Cerf, who is also a registered Democrat, is at the forefront of the Republican agenda of privatizing public schools and union busting. True, Democrats aren’t generally known for their hostility toward organized labor and wanting to reduce children and teachers to test scores; but that doesn’t seem to phase folks like Cerf, or apparently Fulop.

Jerramiah Healy’s imperfections as a mayor and candidate are not a secret, but his accomplishments don’t get nearly enough attention. And his challenger’s associations dash the notion that Fulop is somehow a more pure or forthright alternative. Why would Republicans from another county want to see him in office, enough to help with both their money and political cover? Fulop has long shouldered accusations of careerism, and getting help from those who seek to undo the work of the Democratic party doesn’t help him shake that cloud.

(* Jersey City’s last Republican mayor was Bret Schundler – Christie’s first Education Commissioner and Race to the Top blunder scape goat – in 1992. He had been the city’s first Republican mayor since 1917.)

Comments (21)

  1. William Weber (WjcW)

    I believe it was 3 officials from Jersey City all convicted (excuse me, one died) of taking money to influence Healy. Unfortunately, the feds weren’t able to document the money actually getting to Healy. But we’re to believe that the 3 different officials were all lying and/or boasting about the influence the money would buy?

    And Fulop has the ‘cloud’ ?!?!?!

  2. JCpolitico

    I’m not Fulop-backer, but talking about Healy’s accomplishments without actually mentioning what they are is suspect.

    I personally know both candidates for Mayor and I’m not sure if traditional notions of a Democrat, whether progressive, moderate or blue dog apply in either case.

    Jersey City is its own beast. Party-affiliation matters a lot less here than managerial ability, talent and integrity.  

  3. LimpiarElSucio

    Not only does healy have republicans holdings senior positions in the city’s agencies, but a republican was his chief of staff but he even had a registered republican run for council on his ticket in 2009 and accepted money from the county republican organization (in addition to individuals that are registered republicans)…

  4. Jeff Gardner

    I’ve lived in Hoboken, Jersey City and Weehawken – and loved all 3. (Gold Coast, baby!) But, considering “all politics is local” is an understatement in Hudson County politics, I’m always struck by the level of outside interest in their elections, for better and worse.

    That said, while I totally get the strategy of the Healy campaign to portray the incumbent as the “real democrat” in the race – go for it! – in a non-partisan race, it doesn’t strike me as telling or terrible for a candidate to enjoy support from Democrats and Republicans alike.


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