Jersey City mayoral hopefuls doubt polling data

A poll showing Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s approval rating at 71% has two of his rivals skeptical.

Former Assemblyman Lou Manzo and Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop are both considering making a bid for the seat in 2009. And based on what they’ve seen across town, they don’t believe it’s possible for Healy to have an approval rating of 71%, or a favorability rating of 66%.

“Taxes are up 35%, crime is still an issue. A reasonable person would ask if that poll is valid,” said Fulop. “It was likely conducted at the Astor Bar between the hours of 11 (p.m.) and 2(a.m.) – then it would make sense.”

Manzo, who has run for mayor four times since 1992, has commissioned his own mayoral poll. While the numbers aren’t in yet, he’ll be shocked if they bare any resemblance to the poll released today. He said that Jersey City residents he talks to tend to find Healy likable, but feel the brunt of rising property taxes and don’t feel any safer, despite a statistical drop in crime.

Manzo pointed out that he used the same pollster, Joel Benenson, during his state Senate race last year. In that poll, Healy’s negatives were higher than his positives. This poll, Manzo suggested, is more of a fundraising tool than a measurement of public opinion.

“It’s kind of hard to believe those numbers unless it’s a push poll. Some pollsters will put a spin for you to go out and raise money,” he said. “You can ask a question: if Jerry Healy lowers your taxes next year by 40% and there’s no murder, violent crime and your street gets paved in the next couple months, would you vote for him?”

Manzo recently opened up a public advocacy office — mainly, he said, to address the public’s concerns about Gov. Corzine’s fiscal restructuring plan. Many observers see the move as a way to get out in front of a potentially crowded pack of mayoral candidates.

Other politicians whose names have been floated as potential candidates in the non-partisan race include two Healy allies during last year’s legislative races: State Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith. Smith served as acting mayor for six months after the death of Sandra Cunningham’s husband, former Mayor Glenn Cunningham. Also named are former Mayor Bret Schundler, a conservative Republican who served from 1993 to 2001, and Councilman Steve Lipksi.

Healy could not immediately be reached for comment. Jersey City mayoral hopefuls doubt polling data