If Joe Coniglio is not going to run for reelection for his state Senate seat, he doesn’t seem to know it.
Coniglio was in full campaign mode last night, attending the Lodi concert of a band called Kenny Vance and the Planotones, which he sponsored along with his Assembly running mates Bob Gordon and Joan Voss. While Bergen County political circles have been abuzz about whether the Bergen County Democratic Organization will ask the 38th district state Senator to drop his re-election bid, Coniglio has not made himself scarce.
“Come on, let me see some smiles,” said Coniglio, who wore a white hat with his name on it as he and his wife passed out paper fans bearing the words “I’m a fan of Senator Joe Coniglio, Assembly Members Bob Gordon, Joan Voss.”
It was difficult to tell whether this was the same state Senator who received a target letter from the U.S. Attorney’s office relating to his work as a $5,500-a-month consultant to the Hackensack University Medical Center. But Coniglio didn’t want to talk about that, instead touting his record in bringing state aid to his district for transportation and flooding issues.
“You have to be positive. Do you believe everything you read? I’m proud of my record, I have nothing to hide, and I look forward to a positive outcome from all of this,” said Coniglio, who didn’t want to go into detail about his investigation. Instead, Coniglio spokesman Keith Furlong offered a prepared statement.
“Senator Coniglio has earned a reputation for honesty and integrity throughout nearly four decades of public service. He has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing and he is determined to clear his name. He is definitely running for re-election and is very confident in trusting the judgment of the voters,” read the statement.
Furlong said that Coniglio no longer works as a consultant for the hospital.
Democratic sources have complained that Coniglio’s woes could force the party to invest resources in the otherwise safe 38th district rather than pumping more cash into the neighboring 39th, where Democrats are making a serious push to unseat three long-term Republican incumbents.
Coniglio didn’t see the correlation.
“I think Bergen County’s going to do whatever they have to elect Democrats off the board, and I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised in the 39th district as well as the 38th,” said Coniglio.