Rothman works the door from the inside, while Pascrell sets up camp outside

PARAMUS – Tucked just inside the door, U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) worked the room at the IBEW Hall, grabbing hands when people reached the plastic checked floor.

Outside and getting those hands first stood Rothman’s relentless rival, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9). The Passaic-based congressman appeared here in what his supporters said they knew would be a losing encounter with Rothman on the latter’s home turf for Line A.

But they would be happy with any kind of support, even only a handful of votes, a Pascrellite told PolitickerNJ.com. “This is Brgen County, Stellato should have this place on lockdown,” said the source.

For his part, Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Lou Stellato said, “This is an open convention.”

Moments ago, Pascrell entered the hall, slicing past Rothman through a crowd of people getting their bearings in the entranceway.

Then a bombshell landed in the room.

There would be no speeches – until after the voting.

Pascrell partisans quietly fumed over that late development. They believe their man is the better orator. But Rothman operative Paul Swibinski said it’s not happening.

“Whatever the chairman wants,” he said. “If he wants speeches we’ll have speeches.”

Stellato didn’t want them.

Rothman works the door from the inside, while Pascrell sets up camp outside