Post Election Awards Edition
The Chairman of the Board Award
The Republican Party Chair of Ocean County presided over a big win for U.S. Rep.-elect Jon Runyan. The Burlington GOP weathered a loss to John Adler, who ginned up Democratic voters in Willingboro. Runyan needed a big win out of Ocean, where Gilmore, and under the radar operatives like Frank Luna, delivered a convincing, to carry the former Philadelphia Eagles star to overall 3rd District victory.
The Passaic County Sticking the Landing Award
The Passaic County Democratic Chairman might not have survived his party had he lost the countywide races on Tuesday. But Currie, deprived of his star sheriff a year after Republicans swept him in freeholder and clerk’s races, quickly made a call on Jerry Speziale’s replacement. “We need to reach out to the suburbs,” Currie had said after the 2009 debacle. So, this year, he did, recruiting Clifton cop’s cop Richard Berdnik, who proved a polished, game – and ultimately winning – candidate.
The Playing Possum Award… again
The state Sen.-elect from the 14th Legislative District never runs an easy race, and this last one was no exception. Greenstein appeared exhausted at the tail end of her contest with Tom Goodwin. Close allies were whispering that Republicans under Gov. Chris Christie had made advances in union households despite labor leadership’s cries to the contrary. But Greenstein gritted out an eight-point victory in the end to add to the Democratic ranks in the senate: 24-16.
“I would call my victory sending a message,” Greenstein told PolitickerNJ.com. “People didn’t like their neighbors being treated that way. I also stood up for progressive issues and won.”
The Old School Sharp Elbows Award
Holt v. Sipprelle in the 12th Congressional District
At times seemingly more at home with test tube plasma than live bodies at the bar, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Twp.) proved he has politics in his blood as he ran a head down charge to meet the focused attack of Republican challenger Scott Sipprelle. Arguably the most interesting race of the cycle, Holt v. Sipprelle featured too smart and willing candidates eager to debate the issues of the day.
The Peter DeStefano Stalking Horse Award
Steve Ayscue and Geoff Mackler
When the Courier-Post uncorked the news that veteran Democratic strategist Ayscue and Adler campaign manager Mackler recruited third party Tea Party plant Peter DeStefano, the story dragged on for weeks, miring U.S. Rep. John Adler in bad press when he could have been amping it up with independent voters. Jon Runyan’s squeak-out win makes the DeStefano fiasco and its impact on the race one of the key what ifs of the 2010 cycle. DeStefano received 3,000 votes in the end in a race decided by around 6,000. But if it hadn’t happened, might Adler have prevailed?
The Running into a Burning Building Award
He’ll take blame for losing the entire ticket in Bergen County for the Democrats, but for the second time in two years he was sent into a flaming warehouse with a squirt gun and a map. Last year, he took up the charge for Jon Corzine, this year he ushered Dennis McNerney and Leo McGuire out of office while banging his head against doors at the Bergen Record for some sort of non-negative attention.
The Donald Payne Walk in the Park Award
Henrietta Dwyer is checking the license plate on the NJT bus out of West New York that splashed a puddle of loser on the corner of Hudson Street and Democrats Way.
Sires won his election from the tee box, par for the course in deep blue Hudson County.
The Chuck Wepner Stamina Award
The rising star press secretary for 7th District challenger Ed Potosnak messaged an aggressive, in-your-face, old school Jersey-style campaign against U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, who ended up earning a convincing 59% win over D’Alessandro’s candidate. D’Alessandro competed with Goodwin Campaign Manager Matt Mowers for most emails per minute, doing everything humanly possible to give her candidate an edge.
The Try, try, try, try again Award
The Assembywoman in another lifetime and former state party chair, twice lost primary battles for county executive and failed in a congressional bid against Steve Rothman. But this time she had Dennis McNerney right where she wanted as Donovan and the Republican ticket destroyed the Dems. When she assumes the oath of office in January to take charge of the biggest county in the state, she will be on a short-list of most powerful elected officials.
The Less than Brian P. Stack School Award
Tie: Steve Sweeney and Anna Little
Weeks after taking down former Senate President Dick Codey in 2009, Sweeney lost Gloucester County in the gubernatorial contest. On Tuesday, he lost two freeholder seats. He wasn’t the only one who couldn’t hold his base. Running against U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), Mayor Anna C. Little ate a loss in her hometown of Highlands, as voters recorded more votes for the incumbent congressman than the hometown firebrand.
The Lord Mountbatten Chest Medals Award
It turned out to be the year of the new sheriffs, as Northern hotshots Jerry Speziale and Leo McGuire respectively evacuated and lost. Monmouth voters required an election to formally fill the sheriff’s post shelved by Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno. In Middlesex, veteran Sheriff Joe Spicuzzo retired, and in Hudson, Sheriff Juan Perez flamed out with the organization. That means there are at least five new sheriffs in four significant counties: Monmouth County Sheriff-elect Shaun Golden, Passaic County Sheriff-elect Richard Berdnik, Middlesex County Sheriff-elect Mildred Scott, Hudson County Sheriff-elect Frank Shillari, and Bergen County Sheriff-elect Mike Saudino.
The Leaving it all out there Award
Tie: Leo McGuire and Anna Little
The exiting sheriff’s apoplectic performance at a senior center down the stretch of the campaign may have been the usual McGuire theater. But his pre-Election Day dial up of Howard Stern was an out-of-nowhere 11th hour Hail Mary bomb. Then there was Little, who defeated U.S. Rep. Frank Palllone (D-Long Branch) by three points in Monmouth County. If there was anything more she could do in a district gerrymandered for Democrats, let us know.
The Making the Most of an Opportunity Award
The campaign manager for Tom Goodwin organized aggressively in his home county of Middlesex on behalf of his boss, state Sen. Tom Goodwin (R-Hamilton), and repeatedly sought to define the newcomer senator as a pro-private sector champ in what proved to be a difficult Republican district this year without Peter Inverso or Bill Baroni on the ticket.
The Blue Life Preserver in a Sea of Red Award
Yes, we know the Long Branch-based Pallone won re-election, but that was Middlesex, not Monmouth. As Dems choked down losses nearly everywhere else, Doherty, the husband of former Corzine Campaign Manager Maggie Moran, busted out a win in the local Belmar mayor’s race.
The Frankenstein Straw Man Award
The word out of Linden was that longtime allies Mayor Richard Gerbounka and Councilman Armstead had an understanding leading up to the primary. Armstead would run to weaken establishment Dem Bob Bunk in time for the general election against the independent Gerbounka. But Armstead’s victory over Bunk improbably set up a showdown, which Armstead almost won on Tuesday. Right now, after this morning’s provisional ballot count, Gerbounka leads Armstead by 159 votes.
The Quickly Exchange a Losing Candidate for a Winning One Award
On Monday night, state Sen. Tom Goodwin (D-Hamilton) was the “hardest working candidate” statewide in the approving eyes of Gov. Chris Christie. On Tuesday night, after Goodwin lost, Christie grabbed U.S. Rep.-elect Jon Runyan (R-Mount Laurel) on the victory platform and declared him deserving of the win because he was “the hardest working canddiate” in the state.
The Mayflower Freedom Award
Snuggled into a safe Republican district top-heavy with management as a credible challanger in the form of Chatham attorney Doug Herbert flailed for attention, U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) was able to quietly party through another campaign cycle like it was 1799.
The Frank Lautenberg Swamp Dog Award
Leave it to fellow Patersonian Pascrell to wrench this mantle away from U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Twp.). Confronted with worthy challenger Roland Straten of Montclair (a manufacturing jobs-creating businessman) and running without proven winner Jerry Speziale on the ticket, Pascrell went into overdrive on the campaign trail. His closest allies say they hadn’t seen him so wired during election time since the mid 1990s.