Sources in Union County say Roselle Councilwoman Cecilia Dallas-Ricks did not muster enough support in Roselle to be a credible Democratic Party candidate and consequently will not be in nomination Tuesday night when the party votes for a successor to District 20 Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D-Roselle).
That sets up a showdown between Annette Quijano, assistant counsel to Gov. Jon Corzine; and Elizabeth Councilwoman Patricia Perkins-Auguste.
With Roselle out of contention, sources say Quijano is likely to summon more power-player support in a district where overall, registered Latino voters have a decided edge over African-Americans.
The governor’s assistant counsel has the backing of Union County Freeholder Director Angel Estrada and real estate agent and Hispanic party activist George Castro, both of whom retreated from their own pursuit of the vacated seat.
MOre importantly, Quijano also once worked in the office of state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who along with Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union) in the 29th District Legislative office, is the primary political muscle in the post-Cohen sweepstakes.
Sources say Perkins-Auguste has the support of Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage.
The veteran Cohen resigned abruptly last month after his legislative mates reported him to the Office of Legislative Services for having child pornography on his office computer. He apparently checked himself into a hospital – and then disappeared from public view.
Roselle Mayor Garrett Smith, who himself had announced his interest in the vacated seat, said the Roselle Democratic Committee needs to be better organized in the future in order to field a candidate to compete in a district where the City of Elizabeth enjoys a much larger base of voters.
Cohen – who had also chaired Roselle’s Democratic Party – apparently left a local organization in shambles.
"We have to have better communication," said Smith. "Councilwoman Dallas-Ricks was a good candidate but at the end of the day, the party went in a different direction. Although Roselle is not going to get the seat, we are much better off now because of the process we just went through and will be better organized in the future."