A longstanding war between the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) and renegade state Sen. (and Union City Mayor) Brian P. Stack went into full fixed bayonet mode this weekend in the aftermath of a much-ballyhooed appearance by Stack with future Jersey City mayoral prospect Steve Fulop.
“I feel like I’m at the circus,” said the councilman.
Sources say the HCDO wants to gently offload sitting Mayor Jerry Healy in 2013 and worries that Stack might be wooing Fulop, an anti-administration councilman who, if he plays right and doesn’t cause too many palpitations, could get the backing of the organization.
“All we ask,” said an HCDO source, “is that he stay away from Stack.”
The Beer Garden Stack-Fulop public pair-up last week preceded the exchange of Jersey Journal letters by Stack and his old foe, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and a nose-to-nose encounter between Stack and Hudson County Freeholder Jose Munoz.
Sources say Stack wants to punish Munoz, a one-time loyalist who disrespected the political pooh-bah when he took sides in the West New York mayor’s race.
He wanted DeGise to help him make that happen.
Now for the past four years, Stack has tortured DeGise with phone calls whenever he wants something done, dangling over the establishment executive’s head the prospect of mounting a 2011 insurrection against him, say sources on both sides of the fight. This time Stack did it in a letter to the Journal, demanding that the Freeholder Board convene in his hometown of Union City.
A source told PolitickerNJ.com that Stack wanted the meeting there so he could pack the chamber with supporters eager to abuse Munoz.
DeGise in the past has tried to be diplomatic.
The difference ths time is that primary season is over and DeGise is on track in November to be re-elected county executive with only token GOP opposition. After mostly enduring four years of impromptu Stack tongue lashings, DeGise told allies he’s tired of the abuse and – now that there’s no way Stack can stand in his way – ready to fight back.
He fired off a letter to the Jersey Journal in which he said it was not his responsibility to set the meetings’ locations and got in a crack that the great thing about Hudson County government is that it’s unbossed.
The implication, say sources, is that Stack is a boss.
Over the weekend, former anti-establishment foxhole occupant Munoz tried to join a crowd of elected officials lined up to participate in West New York’s annual Ecuadorian Parade. Stack told his one-time acolyte turned HCDO ally to buzz.
Munoz chest thumped.
A commotion ensued but no one threw any punches, according to sources in both camps.
Finally Munoz walked away, showing class, according to HCDO sources, who are now thouroughly exasperated with Stack.
Their worry, sources on both the Stack and DeGise side of the story, contend, continues to be Fulop and why the councilman cultivates his relationship with the Union City mayor/senator who called Gov. Chris Christie the “greatest governor ever.”
“We do not want Healy to run again; Fulop is acceptable in many ways, he’s shown no hostility and our thought is he may be an effective mayor,” said the top HCDO source. “Our attitude is why should we recruit and finance a candidate when this guy is not so bad. Again, the only thing we ask of him is to stay away from Stack, but he’s not doing that – a huge blunder on his part.”
Neither the DeGise nor the Stack camp elected to speak about the incident(s) on the record.
“The bottom line is I have made it my business not to get involved in county arguments,” Fulop told PolitickerNJ.com. “DeGise is the county executive and Stack is the state senator representing half of Jersey City. I feel like I am being squeezed, but my focus is not to be engaged in their back and forth. I’m trying to build relationships with both of them. I’m trying as hard as I can not to get sucked into it.”