Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville) said he and his running mate, Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark) refuse to underestimate the off-the-line challenger by former District 28 Assemblyman Craig Stanley (D-Irvington), despite Stanley’s failure to muster party support and a wide cash disparity.
“These contests are always difficult to predict and I never disrespect anyone,” said Caputo, who reported $51,000 raised and $31,000 on hand in his last state Elections Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) filing. “I’ve been campaigning so hard, my wife doesn’t even know who I am anymore.”
Caputo participated in Memorial Day events in both Belleville and Bloomfield yesterday and did the church circuit on Friday. His running mate, Tucker, reported raising $49,500 and $17,160 cash on hand. To date, the running mates have authorzied five campagn mail pieces, against zero from Stanley.
For Caputo, the early support of state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark) – who was Stanley's 2007 running mate – proved a critical momentum builder for the team.
“We have the support of both Sen. Ron Rice and (Irvington Councilman) Bilal Beasley, Mayor Cory Booker and Mayor Wayne Smith,” said Caputo, referring to members of two warring political factions from the 2007 campaign cycle, which essentially pitted Rice against everyone else, including establishment candidates Tucker and Caputo.
At war locally and countywide last year, Caputo went one for one with Rice as Caputo won re-election in the face of a Rice-backed Bob Russo candidacy, while his Belleville council candidates lost to a slate backed by the senator.
Mutually beaten, mutually victorious, Rice and Caputo embraced each other this year.
Having failed to secure the backing of the Essex County Democratic Committee and relegated to line “F” on the ballot, Stanley has been mired in court battles involving his register’s candidate, whom a judge ultimately bumped off the ballot.
He projected an upbeat attitude this week in the face of some tough odds.
“We’re working hard,” he said. “I feel good about where we are. People have been receptive to my experience and my history of service. I have a record that includes a complete revamp of the Schools Construction Corporation (SCC). This is legislation I authored, not something someone allowed me to put my name on.”
The nephew of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark) reported raising $8,000 and a closing balance of $4,327.
“We have great candidates,” Stanley said. “If Ricky Singleton (Stanley’s candidate for sheriff) wins, it would be as significant for Essex County as President Obama’s win was for the country.”