Without Zisa, it’s the battle of the Weinberg backers

Ken Zisa, the winner of a State Senate seat less than three weeks ago, will return to Trenton if the New Jersey Supreme Court rules in his favor — of if, for some reason, Tenafly turns out to have been Zisa Country. Zisa, according to several Democratic officials, is taking a pass on a race for the State Assembly seat his rival, Loretta Weinberg, is about to give up. Weinberg’s candidate to fill her seat in an election set — for now — to be held Thursday night is Bergen County Freeholder Valerie Vainieri Huttle. Huttle dropped her own Senate bid in exchange for Weinberg’s support in a future Assembly race. Now another anti-organization Weinberg supporter has entered the Assembly race: Michael Wildes, the incredibly ambitious Mayor of Englewood. Ironically, the competition for the safe Democratic seat might not even include a candidate from the Joe Ferriero wing of the Democratic party. Ferriero might be happier with the consolation prize: replacing Huttle on the Bergen County Board of Freeholders with a Democrat who won’t annoy him. Wildes was elected Mayor of Englewood in 2003 against Ferriero’s wishes. Wildes was prepared to challenge incumbent Paul Fader (now Chief Counsel to Acting Governor Richard Codey, in the Democratic primary, and then beat aging State Senator Byron Baer in a vote of the Englewood Democratic County Committee. Last year, he opened a federal campaign account to prepare to run for Congress, if and/or when Steve Rothman runs for the U.S. Senate. A prolific fundraiser, he has over $100,000 in his warchest. There is no great love between Wildes and Huttle. In 2003, Huttle threatened to challenge Wildes in the Democratic mayoral primary after she was asked to leave a fundraiser with Hillary Rodham Clinton at Wildes’ home.

Without Zisa, it’s the battle of the Weinberg backers