In Passaic, GOP County Clerk might keep Democrat as deputy

One of the upsets of the year came in Passaic County, where Republicans won the County Clerk post and three Freeholder seats, despite a messy intra-party fight and even though Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine's won the county 53%-44%.

Corzine's numbers in Passaic County fell short of his performance in 2005, when he won 60%-40% against Republican Douglas Forrester. Corzine received 61,803 votes in 2005 and 57,010 in 2009; while Forrester received 41,532 votes, Christie's total was 48,500.

In Paterson, which makes up nearly 20% of the total votes cast in the county, Corzine's margin over Christie was 15,121, about the same as his 15,550 vote win over Forrester. Christie did a better than Forrester in Passaic and Clifton, but it was the suburbs that boosted his numbers: he carried Wayne by 3,623 votes – more than three times Forrester's margin (1,066) four years ago. He quadruped Forrester's margin in Hawthorne, and doubled them in Totowa, West Milford. Christie turned a 183 vote loss in Little Falls into a 359 vote win.

The key to the county GOP victories: huge drop-offs in the cities – Corzine received 5,213 more votes in Paterson and Passaic than the Democratic candidate for County Clerk – and GOP County Clerk-elect Kristin Corrado taking in just 899 votes more than Christie overall; solid wins in the north county towns; and a 52%-48% win in Clifton. Corzine won Clifton 50%-46%.

In the race for Freeholder, 1,236 votes separated the the low Republican votegetter, Deborah Ciambrone, from the top Democratic votegetter, incumbent Tahesha Way (46,846-45,610). Four years ago, Democrat Bruce James beat Republican Frank Gaccione by 11,703 votes (50,346-38,643). Corzine, who won the county twice, ran 4,793 votes behind his '05 numbers; Way received 4,736 votes less than James did.

Corrado is a political ally of former Passaic County GOP Chairman Peter Murphy; she beat the organization candidate backed by the current chairman, Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne) in the primary. Murphy stepped up and delivered her a 79% win in Totowa, where he is the party leader. (Christie, who prosecuted Murphy on corruption charges when he was the U.S. Attorney, won 63% of the vote in Totowa.)

There is some speculation that Corrado/Murphy will retain Deputy County Clerk Peter Rendina, a Democrat with very close ties to the Pascrell faction of the party. If that happens, it might explain the drop-off between the gubernatorial and County Clerk race in Paterson and fuel talk among Passaic County Democrats that the Pascrell's — – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) and his son, Passaic County Counsel/lobbyist Bill Pascrell 3d – were firing a warning shot at their intra-party rival, Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie. Karen Brown, a Pascrell Democrat elected County Clerk in 2004, did not seek re-election after feuding with Currie for nearly her entire term.

Click here to view Passaic County town-by-town election results.

In Passaic, GOP County Clerk might keep Democrat as deputy