by MAX PIZARRO
TRENTON – At 44 South Clinton Avenue in Trenton, the state Division of Elections workers are waiting for 4 p.m., which is the primary filing deadline.
They’re going to be here past that time doing the grunt work of representative democracy, but 4 p.m. is the deadline for any straggling candidate who wants to run for Legislative office in his or her party’s primary.
It proves a mellow event for the most part.
Still, for half the day there is some drama.
For beyond the general paper-shuffling atmosphere, beyond the perfunctory interactions – the new just-of-college kid filing to run for office getting helped by an old Divisions of Elections veteran, there is another, deeper expectation, and that concerns State Sen. (And former Newark Mayor) Sharpe James, and whether he’ll show up today after all, for one last trumpet blast atop the ramparts of state government.
It’s almost noon, and no one’s yet seen the dapper James.
"You’re going to want to do door duty," advises David Wald, director of communications for the Office of Attorney General, surveying Trenton from the seventh floor. "He wouldn’t be coming up here."
So it’s back on the elevator again and down to the first floor where there is an encounter with Bayonne City Councilman Anthony Chiappone, who’s running for Assembly in district 31.
He whirls around at the end of the hallway and walks back past the elevators with an outstretched hand.
"The table’s been set," he says. "Now there are nine weeks to campaign."
Chiappone says he just filled out the requisite oath of affadavit and criminal disclosure form, and submitted close to 400 signatures, which he collected mostly himself over the past three weeks, he says.
"I’ll be out there pounding the pavement and pressing the flesh," says the Bayonne lawmaker. "My area is very condensed, so I can reach a lot of voters on foot."
Moments later, a lone figure appears outside the building.
It's Sen. Ron Rice.
"No, Sharpe won't be running," he says, deflating the build-up. "You'd think he'd show a little respect for his constituents. To nopt know like this on this last day is not the way it should be done."
Rice says he himself has already filed, and is awaiting the filing today of one his district 28 running mates, Assemblyman Craig A. Stanley — whom Rice confirmed is in the race. The pair is running with Assemblywoman Oadline D. Truitt.
They will face Cory Booker's candidates: Essex County Freeholder Bilal Beasley for Senate, and Essex County Freeholder (and former Assemblyman) Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker, the widow of Assemblyman/Newark City Councilman Donald Tucker, for Assembly.