Winners and Losers: Week of Sept. 17


Sen. Bob Menendez

Two polls released this week showed the Democratic incumbent with a comfortable lead over challenger Joe Kyrillos.  An FDU poll released Thursday put him up 14 points among likely voters, which even with the margin of error puts him ahead by double digits.

Wilda Diaz

The incumbent mayor of Perth Amboy received the backing of many women elected officials this week as she stared down emails sent to her by controversial political operative James Devine, who charged Diaz with being too stupid to serve as mayor. Diaz supporters include Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34), state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18), state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35), Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20), Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-38), Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, and others.

Joe Vitale

The 19th District state senator leveraged good relations with state Senate colleagues and others to augment Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz’s press conference, taking to task controversial political operative James Devine for his emailed attacks on the mayor.

Milly Silva 

The 1199SEIU executive vice president today announced a tentative contract agreement after months of stalled negotiations between more than 300 New Jersey nursing home workers and their employer Michael Konig. The workers at Manhattan View Nursing Home in Union City, Teaneck Nursing Center in Teaneck and Amboy Care in Perth Amboy are looking at 2% wage increases for each of the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 and employer-funded health and pension benefits, according to the labor leader.


The governor signed a bill banning slaughter of horses and consumption of horse meat in New Jersey. It is, after all, the state animal.

Beer drinkers

Hops fans, rejoice! A bill raising the limits for brewpubs was signed into law. Their annual production can rise, while some of their fees would decrease.



Chris Christie

The governor was beset with a steady stream of negative economic news this week that gave Democrats an opening to again attack Christie’s Jersey Comeback narrative. The governor also faced criticism from both state and national Democrats for his appearance at a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Steve King, whose questionable comments regarding incest and statutory rape had opponents – and some Republicans – labeling him an extremist.  The gov did get some good news this week in a pair of polls that put his approval rating at 59 percent among likely voters and 51 percent among registered voters.

Richard Pucci

The Monroe Township Mayor was once again on the wrong end of an attack by Gov. Chris Christie after it was revealed this week that his budget broke through the Legislature-imposed 2 percent budget cap by $500,000. 

Atlantic City – 

The city spent $65,000 on cars for three council members against the advice of state officials who oversee the city’s finances. According to a report in the Press of Atlantic City, one of the purchases was made hours after the state Local Finance Board approved the city’s 2012 budget.

Eric Hawkins

The former Essex County Deputy Sheriff pleaded guilty to money laundering this week.

Mercer County Republicans

County Democrats have asked the attorney general to investigate how the GOP placed two new freeholder candidates on the ballot without holding a convention.  Called for response, county Chairman Rich Levesque took the opportunity to chastise Democrats for “disenfranchising” voters but never explained how the two candidates were nominated.

Troy Bunero and Francis “Frank” Longo,

The two North Bergen Township Department of Public Works supervisors were indicted Friday for assigning municipal employees to work on election campaigns and to complete personal chores or projects for their boss, Superintendent James Wiley, or for their own benefit.

Ken Zisa

The former state lawmaker and Hackensack police chief was sentenced Thursday to serve five years behind bars for insurance fraud and official misconduct.

Kenneth Huber

Huber, 64, of Budd Lake, N.J., a former engineer with the N.J. Department of Transportation (the “NJ DOT”), pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with one count of soliciting and accepting a $24,000 bribe.

Billy Delgado

Running as one of a large field of candidates, the Perth Amboy mayoral hopeful received a big injection of unwelcome publicity when Mayor Diaz revealed emails sent to her by James Devine, Delgado’s campaign consultant. In the condescending emails, Devine charged Diaz with being too dumb for the job and lacking gravitas. Diaz circled herself with women leaders, including Speaker Oliver and state Senate Majority Leader Weinberg, and condemned Devine’s attacks as anti-women. The big loser was Delgado, whose campaign depends on the field operational handiwork of Devine, who will stay on with the candidate despite being politically toxic.   

James Devine

The operative appeared mean-spirited and bitter when Mayor Wilda Diaz revealed emails he sent to her tinged with condescension and aimed at bullying her from running for re-election. Devine worked to get Diaz elected four years ago, was not going to be part of the campaign this time, and backed challenger  Delgado, who is now weakened (see above) by virtue of his association with Devine.

Winners and Losers: Week of Sept. 17