After a three hour interview with FBI agents investigating a grants consulting company, Bergen County Freeholder David L. Ganz insists he’s not the target of the federal probe. The U.S. Attorney’s office won’t confirm or deny that – as is their policy – and Ganz said the investigators told him that they just needed him to verify documents relating to grant business in Fair Lawn when Ganz was the mayor. Still, since Ganz is up for re-election in November (among Democratic candidates, he was the low vote getter in the 2005 general and the 2008 primary, and lost re-election to his Fair Lawn Borough Council) and some Democratic are concerned that he is the weak link on the Democratic ticket.
There is some speculation that Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero, although emboldened by deep splits within the county Republican organization, could change candidates before the general election if he believes his incumbents are in danger of losing.
Last year, Bergen Democrats pulled State Sen. Joseph Coniglio off their ticket after published reports that he was the target of a federal probe. Democrats were concerned that Coniglio could lose his seat, even though he had not been charged with anything and there had been no official comment from prosecutors.
Bergen Democrats face a potentially tough election year as Coniglio prepares for his corruption trial (he was indicted earlier this year), and as the probe of a grants company involving top Bergen Democrats continues. The EnCap project at the Meadowlands continues to be a hot issue in South Bergen, which is critical to continued Democratic victories. More than a dozen local officeholders have lost re-election over EnCap, including Ganz’ running mate, Bergen County Freeholder Bernadette McPherson, who lost her bid for re-election as Mayor of Rutherford in 2007 by a wide margin. Another incumbent up this year, Vernon Walters, who was appointed to fill a vacancy, must deal with a divided Democratic party in Englewood and strong opposition to his countywide campaign from some Democrats who support State Sen. Loretta Weinberg’s faction.