Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka has endorsed John McCain for President, but declined to say who he would support for Congress in the hotly contested seventh district race between Democrat Linda Stender and Republican Leonard Lance. Part of Linden is in the seventh. Gerbounka was a Democratic Councilman until launching an Independent bid to unseat longtime Mayor John Gregorio in 2006.
Back in 1984, another Democratic Mayor from Union County endorsed a GOP presidential candidate. In a much heralded announcement, Ronald Reagan won the backing of Thomas Dunn, who spent 28 years as the Mayor of Elizabeth. That year, Reagan beat Walter Mondale in Elizabeth by nearly 4,000 votes, 56%-44%. Reagan carried Linden by slightly less than 2,000 votes, also 56%-44%. In other Democratic Union County strongholds, Reagan won Rahway by almost 2,000 votes (58%-42%), but lost Plainfield by almost 7,000 votes, 72%-28%. But Reagan had no coattails: Democrat Bill Bradley, seeking a second term in the United States Senate, carried Elizabeth, Linden, Rahway and Plainfield by wide margins.
Dunn, who served as a Democrat in the New Jersey State Senate from 1974 to 1978, often supported Republican candidates. He backed Richard Nixon in 1972, and most of Matthew Rinaldo’s congressional races. He lost his Senate seat in 1977 as an Independent, after Union County Democrats endorsed Gregorio, who was both Mayor and an Assemblyman. He was defeated in his bid for an eighth term as Mayor in the 1992 Democratic primary by Christian Bollwege, and backed Christine Todd Whitman for Governor against Jim Florio in 1993.