Winners and Losers, Week of Feb. 21st


Steve Adubato

After years of building up some of the best charter schools of their kind in the country, the powerful North Ward Democratic leader has positioned himself to be at the forefront of reform efforts in his hometown with a governor who has the same vision for public schools. Adubato’s strength comes not only from his schools effort, but from the political organizing that simultaneously put him in a good position to wage an April battle with South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka for control of the local school advisory board.

Public Sector Workers

It looked early like Gov. Chris Christie might be able to position himself in front of a TV screen in a warm room somewhere and gleefully witness the collapse of a Wisconsin/New Jersey labor rally in bad weather conditions, but public workers under the umbrella of AFL-CIO State President Charles Wowkanech flexed what muscle they have left in a solid showing in front of the State Capitol on Friday. Despite the absence of a lot of private sector building and trades support and continual efforts by speakers to project one labor message to offset the omission of groups like the ironworkers and teetering in the face of Christie’s proposed budget, the workers showed they still have some organizational ability.

Swing District Republicans

Terrified of walking into the 2010 buzz saw Christie applied to school aid as they stand poised for re-election, Republicans like state Sen. Sean Kean (R-Wall) celebrated Christie’s restoration of nearly $250 million to the budget for school aid. Democrats were quick to point out that it’s not a lot of money, given the fact that the governor cut $1 billion last year, but even more worrisome to the Democrats is the uptick of that funding in key battleground districts in time for this year’s elections.

Sal Vega

Running for re-election to a second full term with the backing of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, West New York Mayor Vega held a rally at Las Palmas that sources say was well-attended as he attempts to stare down Dr. Felix Roque.

John Girgenti

Hemorrhaging after a series of news reports on the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission depicted him as a patronage pit boss, Girgenti bounced back somewhat this week. In his burgeoning primary with Hawthorne attorney Jeff Gardner, the 35th District senator secured the support of Paterson At-Large Councilman Benjie Wimberly, a hugely popular school recreation director and last year’s top vote-getter in municipal elections. 



Christopher Cerf

The acting education commissioner was embarrassed when the Star-Ledger published a story noting how a private company he founded is making $500,000 to oversee a charter schools study in Newark. This while Gov. Chris Christie in his budget address called for more charter schools. Democrats were privately delighted at the prospect of an opening as Cerf prepares to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation.

Cory Booker

The Mayor of Newark took a steady drubbing of criticism from residents worried about lack of transparency and the future of public school education in Newark.

The Tea Party Movement

They didn’t organize as early as the public sector workers who gathered today to project solidarity with Wisconsin, but they didn’t push out a big chest effort Friday under the leadership of an always game and persuasive Steve Lonegan, executive director of Americans for Prosperity. They looked mostly like an afterthought out there.

Rick DeMichele

The veteran Camden County GOP chairman is the target of Stratford Mayor John Gentless and the Pennsauken GOP Club, who want him gone in a critical election year.

Toll Collectors

They’re going the way of milkmen, by Gov. Chris Christie’s estimation. “It’s just going to be one of those jobs that’s just not going to be there anymore,” Gov. Christie said in West Deptford this week. “I wish I could say to you, ‘You’re job’s going to be safe, you’re going to be fine.’ You’re not.”


Winners and Losers, Week of Feb. 21st