MORRISTOWN – Members of his own party have implored Mayor Donald Cresitello to shelve the ego and endorse the man who beat him in the Democratic Primary, Zoning Board Chairman Tim Dougherty.
“Donny, what the hell are you doing?” says one enraged Democratic Party member. “Take it like a man. You lost.”
But as Dougherty squares off against Republican Jim Gervasio ina traditionally Democraticmunicipality, which nonetheless sits one town removed from GOPgubernatorial nominee Chris Christie’s backyardin Mendham Township,Cresitello’s dug in, dead set against lending any politicalheft to his conqueror, who buried him in June by a 62% to 37% margin.
“I’m not going to support Dougherty because of what they did to me in the last week of the campaign,” says Cresitello. “They ran flyers with bags of money in frontof me, saying I never saw a development project I didn’t like. They damaged my reputation bytelling voters I’m a racist. They told people I hated Obama. They damaged my reputation with African Americans, which was an outstanding reputation.”
The mayor warms to the mention of Republican Gervasio.
“We went to grammar school together,” says Cresitello, who split a pair of mayoral contests with Gervasio’s father in the 1970s,winning one and losing one, contests that with the passage of time have deepened Cresitello’s affections for the rival father and son.
A Vietnam veteran and local businessman withgenerational roots in thisMorris County capital, Gervasio told PolitickerNJ.com over the summer that local pride for Morris County product Christie at the top of the ticket could inure to his benefit locally.
“Hopefully more Republicans would come out to vote than usual,” Gervasio said.”Party loyalists will vote top to bottom, especially if it’s a really close race. If he maintains his lead, he could help me. Would I campaign with him (Christie)? Absolutely.”
Dougherty’s still the favorite, as registered Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans, 3,776 to 1,452 with 2,716 undeclared voters leaning Democrat.
“The Democrats locally are working very hard forCorzine,” said Dougherty. “I’m confident we’ll prevail.”
But if Dougherty wins, it will be without Cresitello.