In a state of continuing disrepair and retreat, Democrats milked last Friday morning’s Christie administration meltdown into a week-long respite from their own apparently terminal condition. Below are listed their top ten candidates for governor, according to Democratic Party insiders. But 2013 is a long way to limp.
1. Newark Mayor Cory Booker. His city’s in turmoil, he lost control of the council, his every move hinges on Christie, there’s no budget, and yes, he somehow remains the Democratic Party’s best hope of toppling the Christie mystique.
2. U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill). Hey, Adler, the good news is you’re number two on an insider’s list to be governor. The bad news is your political career will be vaporized unless you win the 3rd Congressional District general election in a Republican year.
3. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford). He was the number one South Jersey prospect for governor until the buzz started around Adler. If Adler loses, move Sweeney to the number two spot. Can you feel the excitement?
4. Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen). Kicked upstairs to majority leader with the leadership power shift, Buono lurched to the left in the Christie era in an attempt to coalesce progressive support for a future gubernatorial bid. So she spends three years corralling fed-up progressives, then gets steamrollered by Christie and independents.
5. Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage. Maybe he was just having fun with all of his anti-Christie tweets and incessant poking at the Democratic Party establishment, but the messages had the effect of walking some Democrats back from the edge of hara-kiri. With nearly 20 years in the can as mayor, Bollwage still fights the perception that overlord Ray Lesniak has been the tweetmaster behind Bollwage’s dock-front soliloquies.
6. Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees). A pompadoured fop to his critics (Gannett bureau chief Bob Ingle and South Jersey puppet master George Norcross), numbers cruncher Greenwald is the last hope of mankind to his south of Camden fan club.
7. Union City Mayor/State Sen. Brian P. Stack. As organized politically as an Egyptian pyramid-building foreman must have been architecturally, Stack might be the best candidate the Democrats could field in 2013, that is if he doesn’t vote for Christie.
8. Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville). At the helm of a fractured and demoralized party, if Wisniewski can stand the Democrats upright again, he deserves a consolation prize.
9. State Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Woodbridge). Like Buono, Vitale offers bonafide progressive credentials. He has fought for all the Democratic Party causes, including healthcare and economic fairness. Now, if he can just get past the Democratic Party, he’ll be fine – if not their nominee for governor.
10. State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Roseland). He flirts, he suggests – but he won’t go statewide in a gubernatorial contest, say his inner circle protectors. Still, if his presence in a future field could triangulate a South Jersey white male out of a primary and land Codey some revenge in the process, he could provide some political kicks as a spoiler candidate.