Peter Cammarano, elected Mayor of Hoboken in June by a narrow margin and gone in July after federal prosecutors arrested him for taking bribes, seemed to believe that he was on his way to political stardom. While still a candidate for Mayor, Cammarano appeared to be planning a bid for the Democratic nomination for Governor. The events that led to the resignation late last night of Burlington County Democratic Chairman Rick Perr were tied to Cammarano’s empire building strategy. Perr, it seems, was to be Cammarano’s man in South Jersey.
Just a week before Cammarano was arrested, he had a lunch meeting with a group of about a dozen young Democrats from different parts of the state to talk about his statewide prospects. Perr was there. Perr even sent out an e-mail to Democratic donors talking up Cammarano and seeking contributions to his campaign. He did this while Republicans were outspending Democrats in Evesham by a 4-1 margin as they won back control in the May elections – a move that truly annoyed some key South Jersey Democrats.
Perr had personal political ambitions too. He aggressively lobbied party leaders to win the Democratic nomination for Congress last year when it appeared that Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) would not return to the House. Sources say that in a Global Strategy poll paid for by the Burlington Democratic organization, Perr tested himself as a potential candidate for State Senator in District 8, where the conventional wisdom is that Philip Haines (R-Springfield) will resign later this year to become a Superior Court Judge. The poll showed that Perr had little name ID and that the leading Republican candidate, former Medford Mayor Christopher Myers, was beating him by a huge margin. Sources say that Perr ally Jeff Meyer, a lobbyist who quit as party Treasurer because of his ties to a PAC that was helping Cammarano, was himself eyeing a run for State Senate against Diane Allen (R-Edgewater Park) in two years.