The polls might have had Councilwoman Beth Mason as the front-runner in Hoboken, but the mistakes she made with bad political calculations and bad alliances did her in at the voting booth this past Tuesday. While Mason was talking about bridging the gap between Old Hoboken and New Hoboken, Councilman Peter Cammarano was actually doing it.
Cammarano, a protégé of Angelo Genova at the politically-connected firm of Genova, Burns and Vernoia, had been executing a plan for the past two years with the help of a mix of new and old political hands – including former Hudson County Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, Hoboken street politics veteran Perry Belfiore, and consultants Joshua Henne and Scott Shields of White Horse Strategies.
In late 2007, Cammarano launched a well-publicized campaign against the PATH toll hike that raised his statewide profile and established him as a watchdog for Hoboken residents. He was also the first to call for disbanding Hoboken's SWAT Team after their embarrassing escapades in New Orleans. On a more local level, Cammarano created the Healthy Tuesdays program to provide nutrition for children in affordable housing. Although he was an election lawyer for Hillary Clinton's New Jersey campaign, Cammarano also made sure he was well-acquainted with Hoboken's Barack Obama supporters, many of whom ended up coming into his camp shortly after the presidential election. Starting last year, the Cammarano team mapped out a strategy that focused on reaching out to young professionals and new voters who traditionally ignored local politics through house parties, coffee klatches and low-dollar fundraisers.
While maintaining a strong base of those who have been around for years, the Cammarano campaign was also driven by a young, new crop of political activists and advisors unscarred by Hoboken's turbulent political past. Ultimately, Mason's "fusion" slate was widely derided by observers and voters as a blatant pander, while Cammarano had been laying the groundwork for a true coalition campaign of supporters for years through a series of public stances and actions.
Now Cammarano faces a June 9 runoff with Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer.