It’s hard, if not impossible, to find a Democrat in Bergen County who will take issue with Gov. Jon Corzine’s selection of state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) to be his running mate for lieutenant governor.
“I think it’s an excellent pick. I think she has a long history of being a straight shooter, and lord knows she has the experience, the knowledge and the leadership ability. Not only is she going to make Bergen County proud, but she'll make the state proud,” said Freeholder Director James Carroll.
What a difference a year makes.
Carroll was on the opposite side of the party divide over the years, when Weinberg was constantly at odds with former Chairman Joe Ferriero. Ferriero’s corruption trial scheduled to bump up against the gubernatorial election. Ferriero’s successor, Michael Kasparian, has made an effort to unite the party, squashing primary challenges to Assembly members Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) – two of Weinberg’s top allies.
Off the record, other officials and party members will admit that the reason there is near unanimous support of Weinberg is simple: there are those who already loved her, and there are those that are happy to get rid of her. Most believe, however, that she does strengthen the gubernatorial ticket by adding to its ethics component and — as a 74-year-old Jewish grandmother — potentially appealing to senior citizens.
Carroll laughed when asked if he was speaking through his teeth.
“It’s the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. It’s a love fest in Bergen County,” he said.
Indeed, Weinberg had the support of the party’s leading lights in the weeks that led up to her selection process.
“I’ve made it abundantly clear over the past month that I’m in complete support of Loretta Weinberg as the lieutenant governor pick for Gov. Corzine,” said Sheriff Leo McGuire. Loretta has proven herself not only to be an effective campaigner, but even more importantly, she’s been a staunch advocate for ethics reform and has been a very effective legislator. I’ve had the opportunity to work with her on many things of common interest for Bergen County, but specifically for her district.”
And about that party split?
“First of all, I would re-characterize what you’re calling a ‘split,’” said McGuire. ” I would characterize it as a difference of opinion on issues important to Democrats in Bergen County. Chairman Ferriero had his ideas about how to run our party, and Senator Weinberg supported some of those ideas but different with others. That’s where Loretta Weinberg is going to bring strength to the ticket — she has an uncanny ability to strip away the layers and get things down to their essential truth.”