It would be bad enough on the intellectual end to try to go toe to toe with Ken Del Vecchio, but the Republican doesn’t want to stop with creative intelligence, for the novelist, ex-judge, attorney and filmmaker is also – dagger coming up – a competitive weightlifter.
“No, I’m not a composer,” Del Vecchio said in response to a PolitickerNJ.com question. “I don’t sing. I’m not musical.”
But he does want to add “senator” to the Renaissance scroll of accomplishments, although it won’t be easy, he admits. He’s not the establishment choice in Legislative District 38 – that’s a role occupied by Bergen County Freeholder Director John Driscoll. Nor does Del Vecchio reside in the county portion that mostly makes the 38th: Bergen.
In fact (it gets worse), not only is he a resident of Passaic County – which contributes just one town (Hawthorne) to the newly configured district – but he doesn’t even live in Hawthorne.
Not yet, anyway.
“I’m planning to move – soon,” said the North Haledon resident, who describes himself as a libertarian, a Ron Paul Republican.
“As a state legislator, all of the decisions I’ll be making will be for the betterment of the entire state. Of course, I’m there to represent the district, but that won’t change how I’ll be voting. I’m not a party hack, beholden to a county boss.”
Del Vecchio has at least one other challenge, which is that his annual film festival – this time set for Teaneck – is scheduled for June 3-4, just ahead of the June 7 Republican Primary.
He said it won’t be a problem. He can delegate.
“I would not have gotten into this particular election if I didn’t think it was important,” said the 42-year-old former municipal judge, who left the bench in North Arlington a year ago after a clash with the State of New Jersey over what the state Supreme Court regarded as the inappropriate publicity generated by his independent movie-making career.
“My movies and books have nothing to do with being a judge,” said Del Vecchio, who published his first novel in 1997 and used that to catapult his movies.
So far, he’s raised $10,000 for this campaign – and figures he will need $25,000 to $30,000 to run an effective primary against Driscoll. He has at least two YouTube videos of himself up now, one of which features veteran film actors Charles Durning and Robert Loggia making his case.
“If I’m elected, my primary focus will be the state Senate,” said Del Vecchio, who transitioned from the law to movies about seven or eight years ago.
“I’m the most qualified person in the State of New Jersey to be a state senator,” he said. “I’m the author of the best selling legal books in the country. I’ve handled huge budgets and time-sensitive projects. I’m humbled to say I wish I could build a house. I can’t. I do know the law, which is what you do in the Legislature. You make laws.”
Driscoll, said Del Vecchio, is a cigarette salesman, which doesn’t qualify him to be in the state Senate, he added.
“He has no law background and no political background,” Del Vecchio said. “He seems like a nice guy, but I’d be surprised if he could enumerate the amendments to the Constitution.”
Del Vecchio surfaced as an alternative GOP candidate after Michael Agosta dropped his own renegade Republican bid. There was no coordination, he said. Legal pal Andy Gause asked him to run, and former Bogota Mayor (and movement conservative leader) Steve Lonegan validated it once Del Vecchio decided to get in the race, he said.
He’s run before, for the Assembly in 2005, in the 35th District, where he suffered a concussive loss.