It was a district going in opposite directions tonight on separate sides of the county line.
In Nutley, Democratic Party district leaders unanimously affirmed hometown lawman Kevin Ryan to be their choice for a vacant 36th District seat.
But in Bergen, the Democratic municipal chairs from five out of seven South Bergen towns told Bergen County Democratic Organization Chairman Mike Kasparian that they want a South Bergen candidate, not Ryan, who has the backing of both state Sen. Paul Sarlo and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
Sources said Kasparian absorbed the message of Bergen solidarity. At least one municipal chair objected to DiVincenzo’s closeness to GOP Gov. Chris Christie and questioned the political wisdom of giving the governor another vote in the legislature.
Although long at war with Sarlo, Kasparian has repeatedly told fellow party members that he would support the will of his county committee, and played the role of listener, not ringleader, sources say.
Tonight, the will was for someone not named Ryan, possibly Freeholder Liz Calabrese, whom sources said did theen did not intend to pursue the seat – but may now be reconsidering, given the strong support from Bergen chairs for a Bergen candidate.
Several insiders said the fear now is that district leaders will boycott a scheduled Dec. 21st special convention to fill the seat, preferring a vacancy to the humiliation of giving victory to the other side.
Here was tonight’s vote…
For a Bergen candidate:
No: Arlington, East Rutherford, Carlstadt, Garfield, Moonachie
Against: Wood-Ridge, Rutherford
Absent: Lyndhurst, Wallington