West New York Mayor Felix Roque’s endorsement of Joe Kyrillos over U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) created a special kind of misery for U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-13).
Since renegade Roque’s election last year, Sires has had the unhappy task of assuring the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) that he could keep Roque from running off the rails into Republican land.
Sires is himself a former Republican brand, so his job of straddling former GOP member Roque and the HCDO gave him institutional street cred and made him, HCDO operatives said, a living emblem of Democatic Party reform.
Sources say Sires is fine. While Menendez backers are livid about Roque, the U.S. senator has no plans to ditch Sires as payback for Roque’s insolence in endorsing a Republican state senator to supplant homegrown Democrat Menendez.
Sires assured Menendez of his own personal outrage over Roque’s remarks.
“I was shocked and disappointed to hear that the Mayor of West New York, my hometown, has decided to endorse a Republican candidate against Senator Robert Menendez,” said the incumbent congressman, running on a re-election ticket with Menendez this year.
“This was a terrible decision by Mayor Roque and it could have a terrible impact on the people of West New York,” he added. “The Republican Party has nothing in common with the vast majority of WNY residents. They reject fair and necessary immigration reforms and they reject the DREAM Act that would give our young people a chance for a better future. They favor more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. They want deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Pell grants for college tuition, mass transportation and virtually every important government program that working class families rely on.”
Roque told PolitickerNJ.com earlier this week that he was stung by Menendez’s decision to play an active role in the local mayor’s race last year, and bristled to see the senator standing with incumbent Mayor Sal Vega.
His decision not to support Menendez goes back to that campaign.
But Sires pursued the policy factor in asking Roque to reconsider his move, and cited Menendez’s record as a better reason to stand with him than remain personally affronted by him.
“Senator Menendez is a true fighter for all of these important issues and a real champion for the people of West New York and all of New Jersey,” said the congressman. “Bob Menendez is one of the most intelligent and principled members of the Senate and I am wholeheartedly supporting his re-election.
“The fact that Senator Menendez did not support Mayor Roque’s election is completely irrelevant to the best interests of the people. Mayor Roque has to be bigger than this. He cannot allow his personal feelings to take precedence over what is best for his community and our nation.
“Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. But mistakes can be corrected. The sanctity of the voting booth gives the mayor the right to vote for whoever he likes. But he must do the right thing for the people who elected him. He cannot publicly support a Republican candidate for Senate whose policies would do such great harm to those same people. Therefore, I am calling on Mayor Roque to re-think his endorsement.”
Sires said he intends to do everything in his power to ensure that Menendez carries West New York by an overwhelming margin.
“If Mayor Roque cannot support this effort, then he should remain neutral and let the people make their own decision, just as they did in his own campaign last May,” Sires said.