The most sought after endorsement of the 2009 gubernatorial campaign might be Brian Stack, a Democratic State Senator and the Mayor of Union City, who says he remains undecided in the contest between Jon Corzine and Christopher Christie. Both candidates showed up in Union City last night to kiss the ring of a local party boss who can deliver 70% of the vote to the candidate of his choice. Christie came bearing a gift: a strong suggestion that Stack is not the target of any federal investigation. Clearly Stack was appreciative of the personal endorsement, although it is possible that he won’t reciprocate in November. Stack has told people he will make up his mind soon, but he’s more likely to extend the courtship, and see where the race is going in October.
It is unlikely that Christie would be so effusive in his praise if he thought Stack was going to get busted. If that happened, the Corzine campaign would have his comment on YouTube within minutes. But Christie has an insurance policy: if Stack was in trouble, it makes claims of politically motivated federal prosecutions less credible. This is a win-win for the former United States Attorney.
Some Democrats fear that Hudson County Democrats might be too weakened by recent events to replicate the 61,640 vote margin they delivered in for Corzine in 2005. There is chaos in Hoboken and Secaucus, where mayors have resigned following their arrests on federal corruption charges last month. The new Hoboken Mayor, Dawn Zimmer, is less than enthralled with the governor, her constituent; Secaucus Democrats are worried about stopping an independent councilman running for mayor from losing to whomever the local organization picks to replace Dennis Elwell on the November ballot. In Bayonne, some supporters of former Mayor Joseph Doria are unhappy because Corzine asked Doria to resign his cabinet post just hours after the FBI raided his home and office; ironically, Corzine is taking heat for throwing Doria under the bus and the beneficiary of that could be Christie, the bus driver.
Jersey City, which gave Corzine a 25,694 vote margin four years ago, is a complete mess. Mayor Jerramiah Healy, never Corzine’s biggest fan to begin with, is dealing with the effects of the federal corruption probe that nabbed the City Council President, the Deputy Mayor, a bunch of local officials, and the late Jack Shaw. Healy’s political rival, Councilman Steven Fulop, beat the crap out of Corzine yesterday for not speaking out against corruption in Jersey City. Joseph Cardwell, also arrested last month, is one of the people Democrats count on to turn out votes; he’ll be on the sidelines this fall.
For Corzine, the loss of Stack’s support – or the involvement of his political organization — could mean 5,000 votes. The governor is depending on big pluralities out of Hudson to win.