Some Democrats think Joseph Ferriero’s criminal conviction puts Bergen County Executive Dennis C. McNerney in danger of losing party support if he seeks re-election to a third term next year. A Ferriero protégé, McNerney was handpicked by the powerful party leader to run in 2002 – now Democrats, protective of their control over county government, might gently nudge McNerney to retire.
Democrats will be more likely to dump McNerney if they lose Freeholder seats next month, and almost certain to replace him if Republicans win the race for governor. But even a victory by Gov. Jon Corzine could push McNerney out; then State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), a Ferriero foe, would be Lt. Governor, and her clout among local Democrats would surely increase. Look for Corzine and Weinberg to play a role in picking a new Democratic County Chairman after Michael Kasparian, who was picked by Ferriero as his replacement last year, steps down next June.
There has been speculation that Sheriff Leo McGuire might be viewed as a stronger candidate, although McGuire has made it clear that he won’t run if McNerney does. The consensus seems to be that if Democrats decide to go with another candidate, it will be done behind closed doors.