Winners and Losers – Week of Aug. 9


Scott Rumana and Kevin O’Toole

The Passaic County and Essex County Republican chairmen tag-teamed to dim the spotlight on Passaic’s answer to primetime: Sheriff Jerry Speziale. Working their channels at the front office, Rumana and O’Toole engineered a job for the real-life Jack Scagnetti over at Port Authority, clearing the Democrats’ dashing leading man (and his $1 million campaign rock pile) from the county general election field.


Charles Epps

Downed once for too much imbibing at the public trough, the former assemblyman (pictured, above) appealed to hometown heartstrings this week to stave off Board of Education member Sterling Waterman’s attempts to off-load the $268,000-per-year superintendent. A Jersey City guy with backing from state Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City) and Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-Jersey City), Epps after this week’s BOE meeting locks like a lock to keep his contract before Gov. Chris Christie’s $175,000 cap kick-in. Of course, Epps’ victory comes with a price: arguably a big, whooping loss for the children of Jersey City, who toil in 35 out of 40 failing public schools.


Don Norcross and Paul Moriarty

While Democrats have mostly reacted to Republican Gov. Chris Christie like a gaping pool of contemplative fish, Norcross – laughed off early as a wind-up wanna-be of big brother boss George – this week delivered a thoughtful and far-reaching series of government reform proposals. With Assemblyman Moriarty at his side, Norcross’s effort in raw political terms represents a senatorial slap at his own party to wake up and reverse course on an abiding narrative: that Christie is the only one cable of initiating anything in Trenton.


Felix Garcia

Steadily working the phones in search of Speziale’s replacement, Democrats say all they need is a warm body to prop up against Republican Garcia. Garcia has not raised much money – his camp claims they raked $20,000 at a 300-head event last Friday, but half that will probably go to the venue where they staged the event. Moreover, on paper, the county still reflects a big Democratic Party presence, and white-haired rock star in-residence Bill Pascrell will be on the ticket in November, unlike last year, when Democratic Party freeholders got stomped. Against a state Sen. John Girgenti, Garcia may wind up getting run over, but this week, the Dems still don’t even have a warm body, Girgenti is wobbling, and the GOP is energized. 


Lou Greenwald

If you’re going to look the part, you should have the money to back it up, and this week, the Gordon Gekko of South Jersey stood at the summit of all legislators with almost $270,000 in his campaign warchest.




John Currie

The veteran Passaic County Democratic Committee chairman took a phone call this week at Democratic Party headquarters (Hawthorne Chevrolet) that nearly dropped him out of his chair. Jerry Speziale, Currie’s own Bruce Springsteen with a badge, who ruled the industrial badlands up there with no serious opposition much to the delight of Currie, was not just retiring – but had already retired. That left Currie in a lurch – one he thinks he can successfully escape – but, which, for the moment – puts him and his party on a precipice.


Chris Christie

Usually dug in like a triceratops, the governor retreated from his initially obstinate stance on federal teacher aid funding after Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill that includes $268 million for NJ teacher rehiring. Signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama, the law unravels in part some of the governor’s budget choices that pitted him against the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Twittering from a ballpark somewhere in the midwest (that irrelevant portion of the country west of the Delaware River), Christie said he wants to be able to maintain control of how the money is spent, but a reversal is a reversal, particularly for a guv whom 42% of New Jerseyans say doesn’t show much give, according to this week’s Eagleton-Rutgers poll.

Leonard Lance 

There’s no hard evidence that the statesmanlike Lance won’t bludgeon his general election opponent. Ed Potosnak has lived in the 7th District for about a minute and so far has demonstrated no ability to raise money. But it’s tough for Lance not to eat a jab on a week when he voted with Republicans against a federal education funding bill especially when Lance’s opponent… is a school teacher. 

The residents of Englewood Cliffs

The Democrats’ two sitting council people doubled up on a Howard Beel act and all but stuck their heads out the windows of City Hall and said they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. Up for re-election in the fall, veterans Thomas Manolio and Ilan Lawker both said they had had enough with the dysfunctional council. Bergen Record reporter Giovanna Fabiano wrote that council meetings “have become particularly acrimonious, with Republicans and Democrats often shouting over each other in order to be heard. Residents chided the council at a July meeting and implored them to work together after Manolio stormed out during an argument with (Council President Robert) Agresta.”  


Winners and Losers – Week of Aug. 9