His foes say Larry Spagnola doesn’t have a shot to replace Jerry Speziale at sheriff for the Democratic Party, in large part because Spagnola endorsed Chris Christie for governor last year.
Allies of the retired Paterson police chief, however, argue that Passaic has a history of electing members of both parties – and of voter loyalty to personalities over parties. Spagnola has sufficient name ID to corral independent voters, his allies insist, and can play up-county in addition to securing his own base in Paterson.
“The county can flip-flop based on the candidate, not the party,” said one Passaic County Democratic insider.
Consider the fact that U.S. Rep. Bob Roe, a Democrat, and Sheriff Edwin Englehardt, a Republican, co-ruled Passaic County for two decades together in the 1970s and 1980s. They operated with an understanding not to tread on each other.
That said, times have changed from those days of less than hyper-partisan focus, and there are party members grumbling mightily that Spagnola doesn’t deserver a shot based on his support for Christie.
In a conversation with PolitickerNJ.com last week, the former chief left open the possibility of competing as a Republican or independent.
The GOP has repeatedly said Felix Garcia is their sheriff’s candidate.