There they were at a table in Las Palmas last night apparently making battle preparations: Assemblywoman Caridad Rodriguez (D-West New York), resident member of the Hudson County Stack Pack, and Dr. Felix Roque, a maverick challenger to West New York Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega in the May nonpartisan election.
A source present at the meeting said Rodriquez told Roque she was prepared as early as this coming Wednesday to commit to running with him against the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO)-backed Vega.
Roque said that was fine by him.
If it locks in, and Rodriguez surfaces formally as a commission candidate on the Roque slate, the doctor would “gain organizational credibility” as a candidate, by virtue of the fact that Rodriguez has more than casual political linkages to powerful 33rd District state Sen. Brian P. Stack (D-Union City), who already crushed Vega when they faced each other in 2007.
Roque’s combat boot efforts at petition collecting in the past have infuriated the old school sensibilities of several Stackites, who thought they detected in the Bentley-driving U.S. Army captain more neophyte bravado and less calculating Iago.
But the potential for a full-on alliance now exists, with Rodriguez the connecting point.
Stack is upset that at least one significant Democratic Party redistricting map suctions West New York out of his district, presumably into state Sen. Nick Sacco’s (D-North Bergen) neighboring 32nd district and gives Stack a bigger chunk of Jersey City, which over the course of a decade grew by 7,000 people, according to 2010 census figures.
Rodriguez’s willingness to join the Roque cause locally indicates a shift within the Stack organization to proceed as though West New York will indeed be gone once the redistricting commission draws a consensus map, in the process arming Roque with a known quantity in Rodriguez.
Roque has announced a Wednesday press conference to unveil his full slate.
Vega’s allies said Rodriguez’s move – assuming she goes forward with it – surprises them.
“There was never any contact on behalf of Assemblywoman Rodriguez, she never called Senator Sacco,” said Sacco/Vega Spokesman Paul Swibinski, almost eliminating the prospect of a Sacco-Rodriguez legislative alliance. “Obviously, she can’t be an assemblywoman and a commissioner. Senator Sacco would certainly prefer to have an Hispanic running mate in this district. Given the makeup of the district, having two Latino candidates on the ticket is very reasonable.
“She has very low name recognition,” the spokesman added. “She is not well known at all. She’s a lowkey legislator. If she was available, she would have been given strong consideration but now she disqualifies herself by running for commissioner.”