Joseph Doria is the topic of speculation these days, with rumors that he might be headed to Governor Jon Corzine's cabinet as Commissioner of Community Affairs. But don't expect the veteran legislator — who is not seeking re-election to the Senate this year — to make any career decisions before Tuesday's Democratic primary.
Some Democrats say that Doria is very much under consideration for a cabinet post (Susan Bass Levin is departing soon to become Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey), but several close friends say Doria has told them that he isn't entirely interested. Of course, that could be Doria being Doria.
More likely, Doria needs to see who wins the hotly contested legislative races in the 31st district, where Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Louis Manzo are facing off for his seat in the State Senate. The candidate Doria is watching most carefully is his bitter local rival, Bayonne Councilman Anthony Chiappone.
These two have some history: Chiappone defeated Doria, then a twelve-term Assemblyman, in the 2003 primary. Doria beat Chiappone in a 2004 Special Election for State Senator (after Glenn Cunningham died), and backed a candidate who beat him in the '05 Assembly primary. Last year, when Doria sought re-election to a third term as Mayor of Bayonne, Chiappone backed a challenger who forced Doria into a runoff. Now, Chiappone is running with Cunningham on the Hudson County Democratic Organization line.
Doria would be less likely to go to the cabinet if Chiappone wins. A resignation would trigger a November Special Election for Mayor in Bayonne, where Chiappone could emerge as a strong candidate against the Acting Mayor, veteran City Council President Vincent Lo Re. Doria is not likely to turn the city over to Chiappone — at least not voluntarily.