DENVER — Already embroiled in the preludes to what’s certain to be a hold-no-punches mayoral battle next year, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s allies tonight at the Pepsi Center said they hope to be able to pull an Obama card before the May election.
Healy supported Barack Obama early on, though his endorsement is often overshadowed by Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s endorsement.
Does Healy want Obama to come campaign for him? Of course. But is that actually a realistic possibility if Obama becomes president?
Carl Czaplicki, Healy’s former chief of staff and the current director of the Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce, (and former executive director of the Hudson County Republican organization) thinks it’s not that far-fetched.
“I wouldn’t consider it a long shot. A number of times already he’s shown his willingness to come to New Jersey and Jersey City on two or three occasions,” said Czaplicki, who sat just a couple rows in front of State Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham, another prospective mayoral candidate.
Indeed, Obama was in Jersey City twice before and during the primaries – once at a private fundraiser in Liberty State Park, and once at a large public rally at St. Peter’s College not long before the New Jersey primary.
Czaplicki said that the Mayor and his allies have thought about the prospect, though they wouldn’t dare ask any time soon.
“Of course we have. It all depends on how this goes here. The guy has a lot of work ahead of him. We’ve got a good neighbor to the south now in Joe Biden.”
Jersey City Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis was a little more circumspect about the idea.
“I wouldn’t speculate on that. I know that Obama is very grateful to Mayor Healy and his work, because he’s said so numerous times publicly. I’m confident he’ll help us some way. Of course when you’re president of the United States you’ve got a lot of other things on his plate.”
But even without an Obama visit, Matikoudis said the fact that Healy put his neck out to endorse him so early on – against most North Jersey Democrats – is something that voters may consider.
Maybe Healy didn’t have to worry about going against the Hudson County Democratic machine, which he runs as the local party’s chairman. But it was contrary to just about everyone else’s pick, including Hudson County’s own Sen. Bob Menendez.
“I think it should matter, because it shows the type of judgment that Jerramiah Healy has, because he recognized what kind of special person he was and took really a bold risk in endorsing him when the party apparatus in the state was on the other side, and when Hillary Clinton was ahead in the polls by 20 points,” he said. “And he did it not out of political calculation. H did it because it was the right thing.
Healy, who’s also a delegate, had not yet reached the arena.