Civil war in Bergen

The three leading candidates to challenge incumbents Gordon Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle for the Democratic State Assembly nomination in the 37th district are former Assemblyman Ken Zisa, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, and Bergen County Improvement Authority Commissioner Cid Wilson, the President of the Dominican American National Roundtable. Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero has endorsed Loretta Weinberg for re-election to the State Senate, but not Johnson and Huttle. If the Assembly incumbents lose a vote at a Democratic convention, Weinberg has the choice of running on the Democratic line, or rejecting it and running on a slate with Johnson and Huttle. That could mean a primary for Sheriff Leo McGuire and Freeholders Elizabeth Calabrese, Tomas Padilla and James Carroll. The prospects of a contentious Democratic primary in Bergen County this June could be especially troublesome for Corzine — especially if he weighs in again and supports a Weinberg slate. Corzine already has problems with Democratic legislators in South Jersey and Hudson County, and a battle with Ferriero, who has considerable influence in the 36th and 38th districts — could make the passage of a state budget increasingly more difficult. Zisa served four terms in the Assembly before giving up his seat to run unsuccessfully for Bergen County Sheriff in 2001. He won a September 2005 Special Election Convention for State Senate by just four votes, but after a Superior Court Judge ruled that five disputed votes should be counted, Weinberg wound up winning by one vote, 115-114. Zisa had Ferriero’s support, while Weinberg was endorsed by Jon Corzine. The uber-ambitious Wildes, who has an on-again, off-again, relationship with Ferriero, lost a Special Election Convention for Weinberg’s Assembly seat to Huttle. He has nearly $460,000 in a federal campaign account, in case Congressman Steven Rothman does not seek re-election.

Civil war in Bergen