BAYONNE – In his concession speech on Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews acknowledged a lot of his supporters, among them his North Jersey backers and among those, Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone (D-Bayonne).
“This was very kind of him,” Chiappone said. “I appreciated that. This is a guy who called me the day after Election Day and personally thanked me.”
While U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg blistered Andrews in Hudson County, 75-21%, Chiappone helped the South Jersey congressman perform better in Bayonne than in any other town.
Although he lost here in Chiappone’s hometown as elsewhere in Hudson, Andrews won 1,763 votes to Lautenberg’s 2,599 – a differential roughly equivalent to off-the line Chiappone-backed freeholder candidate Mary Jane Desmond and her organization line conqueror, Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico.
DiDomenico beat Desmond in Bayonne, 2,706 to 17,66.
“That’s about what I wanted to do,” said Chiappone the collective effort for Andrews.
The first term Assemblyman (and Bayonne councilman) accompanied Andrews on at least two shopping center handshake tours and one town hall meeting in Bayonne, and did organizing and Election Day GOTV for him.
The assemblyman doesn’t know if there will be organizational reprisals against him for stepping out on the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s Lautenberg endorsement.
The longtime machine antagonist who fears the word “establishment” when it’s ascribed to him, Chiappone said he never considered the contradiction of backing a candidate for U.S. Senate who is supported by the powerful South Jersey Democratic Organization.
“I wouldn’t even know George Norcross if he walked in the room right now,” the assemblyman said.
He insists he just liked Andrews – in 1997 when he ran for governor – as now.
“He’s a very Bayonne-like guy,” Chiappone said.