While political insiders around Bergen County watch the Democratic headquarters in Hackensack for white smoke, at least one person who’s being put up for Joe Coniglio’s place on the ballot doesn’t know it yet.
It’s Fort Lee Councilman Michael Villano, whose name Fair Lawn Committeeman Bob Gulack wants to put forward at the organization’s Sunday night meeting.
But Gulack hasn’t yet reached Villano, who’s out of town, to tell him.
“I can’t say I have his authorization to put his name forward,” said Gulack, who works as an attorney for the Security and Exchange commission in Manhattan. Gulack said he’d run for the position himself if he wasn’t barred from holding elected office because of his job.
For now, Gulack, a constant thorn in Joe Ferriero’s side, is calling fellow anti-Ferriero committee members and sending out emails in an effort so round up some votes for Villano, who recently ran a tough primary challenge for Fort Lee Mayor against the late Jack Alter.
“As a Democrat I’m not happy picking from a menu written for me by Ferriero,” said Gulack.
Of course, even if Villano wants to run for the state Senate, he’ll be a long-shot against Ferriero’s anointed candidate. But Gulack argues that Ferriero is not untouchable. Gulack worked with state Senator Loretta Weinberg to fend off his primary challenges to her candidacy, and helped derail Ferriero’s recent threat of a lawsuit to abolish the state’s pay-to-play law that was sponsored by Weinberg.
Weinberg, who represents the neighboring district 37, wrote a letter yesterday praising the ethics of two Assembly members, Joan Voss and Bob Gordon.
“All I can do is give this the college try. I just don’t want to sit back and watch the machine,” said Gulack.
Gulack has played the part of sacrificial lamb before, putting himself up as a protest candidate for chairman against Ferriero last year. His candidacy was not, of course, successful.
Ferriero, for his part, isn’t taking the challenge seriously.
“All I can say is he is a county committee man and he certainly has a right to nominate anyone he wants to at the convention, and I’m sure whoever he nominates will be defeated just like he was when he ran against me.”
Villano could not be reached for comment.