PHILADELPHIA – It’s the Democratic National Convention on the day the party will put up its nominee for president, but very few people had time for general election politics this morning in the ballroom of the Renaissance Airport Hotel, a tower of swampland majesty populated by egrets and other wading birds where people frequently lean in quizzically to say “huh?” as planes fly just overhead.
The well-polished words of American hero General Wesley Clark here at a breakfast party for Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, attracted less attention than those of another white-haired presence, who sank his fangs into Fulop immediately following Clark’s efforts to train people’s ire on Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.
In a gaggle of reporters, Norcross badmouthed Fulop as a politician who will say whatever is politically expedient at any given time, per the instructions of his political mentor, former Governor James McGreevey. Reporters scureried around the big room in the aftermath, replaying the remarks in astonishment.
Questions about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton disunity drew mostly dumbfounded looks from this crowd, who wanted to stretch out Norcross v. Fulop. “I hope he finds peace and happiness in his life,” said the newly married Fulop, beaming magnanimity on the heels of the South Jersey boss’s remarks. Norcross wants Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), not Fulop, to be the next governor of New Jersey, and that political collision dominated talk in this coffee-imbibing crowd.
“We’ll be unified in time for the Democratic Primary,” said veteran operative Phil Alagia, chief of staff to powerful Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
The comment drew a double take of disbelief, as a slow-on-the-uptake reporter processed the fact that Algia was referring to the 2017 Democratic Primary for Governor, not the coming general election contest this November.
Every conversation on the subject came with the caveat that the contest remains “fluid.” But the breakfast scuttlebutt concerned the possible emergent gubernatorial candidacy of Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) of Paterson. If Sumter entered the contest, Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie (who doubles as Passaic County Democratic chair) would bear the burden of having to back her. She’s his goddaughter, after all. Now such an endorsement would harm Fulop, whose home county support in Hudson coaxes Bergen, as Bergen coaxes Passaic. Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato and Currie played high school football together. There’s a bond there. If Currie has an alibi in Sumter to be off the Fulop for governor reservation, that leaves Bergen and Hudson for Fulop – and weakened. In this environment, fueled apparently by the buffer talk of Sumter, Stellato and/or his people approached Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe to feel out support for Fulop. Stellato doesn’t want to back Sweeney. He prefers Fulop. By Far. But if Sumter gets in and Passaic falls off, he wants reinforcements. Hence, McCabe. But McCabe’s not there yet. A source told PolitickerNJ that the Central Jersey chairman is telling people that he’s focused on this November.
He might be the only one.