Some very optimistic Bergen County Republicans are thinking ahead to 2010, when two-term County Executive Dennis McNerney is up for re-election. The GOP believes they could have a shot at the post they held from 1986 to 2003, if New Jersey has a Republican governor. And some Democrats say that McNerney could be weakened if federal prosecutors convict former Democratic County Chairman Joseph Ferriero after his corruption trial this fall.
The Republicans who receive the most attention as potential County Executive candidates are: County Clerk Kathleen Donovan, Assemblyman David Russo (R-Ridgewood), and former Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan. If the Bergen County Democratic Organization pulls their support from McNerney, look for Surrogate Michael Dressler, Sheriff Leo McGuire, and outgoing Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes to be among the top candidates.
Republicans won the first County Executive race in 1986 when Sheriff Bill McDowell beat the front runner, State Sen. Matthew Feldman (D-Teaneck). Assemblyman William “Pat” Schuber (R-Oradell) won the post when McDowell didn’t seek a second term in 1990, and McNerney won in 2002 against State Sen. Henry McNamara (R-Wyckoff) after Schuber retired.