WEST NEW YORK – Jersey City native Joe DeMarco, campaign manager for Dr. Felix Roque, observed politics as he grew up but never ran himself until he moved to leafy Somerset.
“I won a council seat in Bernardsville – as a Democrat, so I must be good,” said DeMarco, an attorney.
Throughout the weeks leading up to Election Day on Tuesday, the knock on challenger – and eventual winner Roque – was that he didn’t have a good operation.
Curled up in his sleeping bag on a window ledge at campaign headquarters, DeMarco rested between rounds of what proved to be a bruising, and in his case, ultimately rewarding contest against a Democratic machine whose allies included U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Hudson County Democratic Organization Chairman Mark Smith and County Executive Tom DeGise.
DeMarco said to anyone who would listen – and that at times appeared to be a fast dwindling number – that he liked going into this week’s election with the 5,000 recall signatures from 2010 in Roque’s corner. The campaign manager figured incumbent Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega had the comfort of about 2,500 votes connected to City Hall. Intent on translating at least 4,000 recall sigs into real voters, DeMarco nonetheless made no exasperated or prolonged plug for the value of his underdog campaign or for why his theory had merit, choosing instead to make his pitch, then work quietly on execution.
The organization argument persisted among Vega allies. Roque doesn”t have a chance, ran the reasoning, he has no operation.
If it wasn’t high tech, DeMarco said he believed his campaign had a principal candidate willing to spend money and work hard, and a terrain of angry taxpayers ready for a change at City Hall.