For about two days, 27th district Republican Assembly candidate Mark Meyerowitz thought that he might just be able to pull it off – that he could become the first Republican legislator elected out of West Orange since 1969.
The odds were stacked against Meyerowitz, a 52-year-old financial advisor with barely any political experience, from the beginning. He was running against two entrenched Democratic Assembly opponents – Mims Hackett, Jr. and John McKeon — in a district represented in the Senate by Richard J. Codey, the most popular politician in the state.
Then Hackett was led away in handcuffs as part of Chris Christie’s wider corruption bust that netted 11 public officials. And for that fleeting moment, it looked like Meyerowitz might just be able to slip into the Assembly.
“It was exciting for the weekend,” said Meyerowitz. “Then I began to realize that they’re just going to find a replacement anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.”
If Hackett had stayed in the race, Ed Marable, Jr., a Democrat running for Assembly as an independent, could have split the urban vote, allowing Meyerowitz to capitalize on the suburban voters that make up a good chunk of the district. But then Hackett caved to pressure from Democratic leadership and resigned from the Assembly, leaving South Orange-Maplewood School Board member Mila Jasey poised to take his place pending her confirmation by the Essex County Democratic Committee.
“I don’t know her yet, but I’m hoping she won’t be a yes woman for the Codey machine again, because the retirees are having a hell of a difficult time living here,” said Meyerowitz.
Meyerowitz knows that his chances of winning an Assembly seat are slim to none now that Hackett has been replaced. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop campaigning. He’s still pounding the pavement and meeting with voters, hoping that his campaign can have an impact.
“The thing I’m trying to do is get the Democrats to be aware that they have a right to know where the money is going, and maybe they should start speaking up,” said Meyerowitz. “Do I have a shot? I think I have a chance to bring up issues that normally wouldn’t be brought up.”
His concerns: taxes, gang violence and cutting government waste. Meyerowitz says he doesn’t want to run a kamikaze campaign, but wants to introduce ideas on running government more efficiently. He pointed to a car advertisement he saw while driving down I-80.
"It said ‘more power, less gas,’” said Meyerowitz. “That’s what we need for government – more effectiveness, less money.”
Meyerowitz said he’s been impressed with the accomplishments of some Midwestern governors and would like to have a bi-partisan panel of former governors from other states examine New Jersey and make recommendations on how to improve government’s function.
Meyerowitz added that he hopes the media attention brought about by the recent corruption bust will encourage constituents to keep track of their elected officials.
“The way politicians are in New Jersey, it’s like having teenagers partying in your basement. If you don’t check up on them, they’re going to get in trouble,” said Meyerowitz.