When Passaic County sheriff’s candidate Richard Berdnik went to the front of the tent in a residential side yard of Passaic City on Friday night, he didn’t call either retiring U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) or former Gov. Jim Florio to stand beside him at the lectern.
He instead called up Kenneth Lucianin, sr., a retired cop and local political patriarch.
“My mentor,” said Berdnik, who is running in an intense and competitive election against GOP candidate Felix Garcia, a former undersheriff.
Part of Berdnik’s challenge with two weeks and a day until Election Day is to play on his urban contacts – like Lucianin – to offset his low name ID.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell’s (D-Paterson) presence at the top of the ticket gives Berdnik a built-in security factor. Garcia and his GOP running mates aren’t campaigning in any significant way with Pascrell’s 8th District challenger, manufacturer Roland Straten of Montclair. Sources said campaign strategy at this point is to work the hell out of the Latino neighborhoods to counteract Garcia’s efforts in Paterson and Passaic City.
Another urban player for Berdnik is Paterson Council President Aslon Goow, who attended Friday’s fundraiser at the Lucianin homestead, which featured back-toback speeches by Florio and Kennedy. Goow himself wanted the Democratic Party nod for sheriff. It’s also no secret that he would like to run for mayor again.