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.

  5. KendalJames (Post author)

    WCW, you’re a regular here whose posts are largely defined by their questioning of progressive policies and ideas. Since you’re going after Healy (the post was about Fulop), don’t you see that you’re only confirming that non-progressives are pulling for Fulop?  

  6. William Weber (WjcW)

    I’m flabbergasted that you would prefer a corrupt progressive vs. anyone, regardless of party affiliation.

    If you had info that Fulop was on the take, or reason to believe Fulop was corrupt, then maybe.

    But you seem to be putting politics over curruption, aren’t you?

  7. Chubby

    ‘non-progressives’ are pulling for Fulop? You must not live in Jersey City…..

  8. Chubby

    Being able to down a sixpack in one gulp is the best accomplishment Mayor Chug-a-Lug has, and can, ever do….

  9. KendalJames (Post author)

    Nonetheless, Healy folks would likely point to infrastructure and road improvements, better parks, increased police presence, record low violent crime and murder rates, a responsive graffiti task force, etc.

  10. Joshua Henne

    1). 2012 had lowest homicide rate on record in Jersey City

    2). After a century of no new municipal parks, there are currently 5 in various stages of planning throughout the city

    3). Moody’s, last year,upgraded JC bond rating to positive

    4). Healy has made it a priorirty to get guns off the street…this month’s gun buyback took 164 weapons off the street in one day alone

    5). While other large cities cities across the state have laid off police officers and firefighters to close budget gaps, Mayor Healy has refused to sacrifice the safety and Jersey City residents.  

  11. KendalJames (Post author)

    Again, this diary is about Fulop’s association with these Monmouth County Rs, and by implication what impact that could have on Jersey City under a Fulop administration. There’s no endorsement of Healy here.  

  12. William Weber (WjcW)

    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.

  13. William Weber (WjcW)

    He used to research/blog about this nonsense extensively…

  14. JCpolitico

    And they would be full of it.

    Road improvements? Where? Potholes are everywhere and the promised bike lanes have barely materialized.

    Infrastructure improvements? Where? The streetscape project in the Heights has been a disaster.

    Increased police presence? Okay, compared to what, and based on what metric?

    Healy has been underfunding DPW and JCIA. There is one pothole crew for the whole city.

    The Snowpocalypse of 2010 and 2011 exposed major deficiencies in the way the city responds to natural disasters, not to mention Hurricane Sandy, when numerous documents and offices in the basement of City Hall were not evacuated or emptied of crucial materials even though Hurricane Irene showed that City Hall was liable to flood.

    I’m not saying Fulop will do better, but the bar set by the Healy administration recently has been set pretty damn low.  

  15. Bertin Lefkovic

    Does anybody else here know that you are on Healy’s payroll, Joshua?  If I were you, I would not assume that this is common knowledge and do us all the courtesy of disclosing it before you advocate for him here in the future.  Thanks in advance.

  16. JCpolitico

    What Mr. Henne doesn’t seem to realize is that this is the wrong crowd to spout talking points at.

    Look, Healy might be the least worst option, he might be the second least worst option, but I hope here at Blue Jersey we can have an honest conversation about the relative merits of each candidate without resorting to hand wringing about whether each is sufficiently partisan.

    The bottom line is that in a non-partisan election when the two major candidates mostly agree on Democratic platform issues like gay marriage, guns, progressive taxation,etc…it comes down to who is going to get the most of the limited resources at their disposal.

    Healy so far has shown himself to be a slave to special interests such as the police union and developers. Fulop, I suspect, is not much better, though because he is only a councilman hasn’t yet had the chance to sell out.

    That said, removing the instutionalized sinecure, making city employees accountable to residents and improving fundamental services are key.

    Does Healy have the guts and willpower to get it done during his third term? Probably not.

    Does Fulop have the political willpower to change the system, clean out the rot and make hard choices that aren’t necessarily in the best interests of those bankrolling his campaign? Probably not.

    That said, do the residents of Jersey City have the wherewithal and commitment to make their city better? Maybe. So who is going to best respond to us when we call them out and put their feet in the fire?  

  17. Joshua Henne

    Jcpolitico…ummmm…I simply responded to your original call saying “talking about Healy’s accomplishments without actually mentioning what they are is suspect.”

    I didn’t start this conversation and didn’t write this diary, but thought you wanted to know some of them because you asked. In fact, look above, the very subject of the comment you posted was “Healy Accomplishments?”

    So I wrote in a few top of my head because, frankly, you brought it up.  That is not spouting “talking points” – I was answering your question. You can argue or debate them if you want to. But there are solid facts behind the accomplishments.

    As for not declaring myself as working for Healy, I think it’s fairly common knowledge as I’m on the record as spokesman.  Would it be preferable if I did what others do and create a “fake name” or pseud to write under at blue jersey?  I am proud to work for progressive causes and candidates, and do so under my own name. Unlike someone who writes under “JCPolitico”

    p.s. please by all means continue bashing Mayor Healy, because if I were Healy I would be proud to be in the same boat as Loretta Weinberg, Cory Booker and Rosi Efthim – all of whom you have recently spoken ill of when I just looked up your most recent JCPolitico comments.

    p.p.s – you dont seem very nice.

  18. denniscmcgrath

    and I have no earthly idea of what you do for a living, Mr. Henne.

    Erring on the side of caution is usually a safe approach. As is transparency.

  19. JCpolitico

    But it is big business, as you are no doubt well-aware.

    The day I give a damn when political consultants say I’m not nice is the day I vote Republican.

    It’ll never happen.

    Politics is my hobby and my passion, but not my vocation, and I prefer to speak with honesty when it comes to calling out those I support (or don’t) for things I don’t agree with.

    If you think I was wrong to call out Loretta Weinberg for stabbing Buono in the back, or if you think I was wrong for saying the Brookings institute is not in fact a right wing think tank, and if you think I was wrong for saying that Booker should run for Senate rather than Governor, say so.

    If you think I should have said them in a nicer, gentler way, fine, but I’m not gonna apologize for hurting someone’s feelings and the fact that you’re falling back on this “niceness” canard shows just how weak your proverbial hand is.

    Also, it’s not personal, but my allegiances are to my fellow residents, not to elected officials and I refuse to be just another Jersey City sycophant.  


  20. Bertin Lefkovic

    I only knew that Joshua worked for Healy, because I read the PolitickerNJ piece about his staff announcement, saw his name, remembered it from something related to Blue Jersey, and wondered what the hell someone who I presumed to be progressive (I guess this is what happen when one presumes) was doing working for a corrupt hack like Healy.

    I can only guess that this is what happens when activist bloggers decide to try to make a career out of being activist bloggers and find that the only money that can be made in this business is by working for the corrupt hacks like Healy who are able to fill their war chests through their corrupt endeavors.

    Sadly, it seems that the best that our major cities can get in terms of governance is choices between old guard machine politics hacks like Healy and Sharpe James and up-and-comers like Fulop and Cory Booker who have no choice but take money from the wrong people.

    As long as money infects politics, voters are going to continue to have lousy choices like this.  That said, lousy choices are better than no choices at all and I would prefer to go with the up-and-comers like Booker and Fulop and be disappointed by them than corrupt hacks like Healy and James, who will never do anything good for their cities if they cannot skim a few million dollars for themselves and their cronies.

  21. Bertin Lefkovic

    While I don’t agree with your characterization of Senate Majority Leader Weinberg as a backstabber, I do agree that it is far better to be honest than not.


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