NEWARK – The sides have lined up – one against the other – Lautenberg forces versus Andrews forces – but Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo has kept his name in no man’s land.
“I’m neutral,” he said yesterday when he made an appearance at a Gov. Jon Corzine press conference behind the Oliver Street Elementary School in the Ironbound.
Of course, everyone in his North Ward circle backs U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews over U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), mostly because powerful North Ward Democratic leader Steve Adubato backs Andrews.
Andrews supporters in Newark include state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Newark) and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos – all DiVincenzo diehards.
The county executive has longstanding ties to Andrews, whose South Jersey political apparatus helped elect him in 2002. But the prospect of publicly endorsing an 11th hour candidate over Lautenberg – the man with the organizational line here and key support – has kept DiVincenzo underground.
The reality is he’s running again in 2010 and his allies feared if he went public with an endorsement of Andrews he could exacerbate political fractures countywide. So he’s with government for the moment, while Adubato continues to man the political arm of the operation.