The low-grade civil war that for weeks has stirred the back alleys and waterfront crevices of Perth Amboy goes live at 1 p.m. tomorrow when Assemblyman and State Democratic Party Chairman John Wisniewski (D-19), Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman and Perth Amboy Democratic Chairperson Leslie Dominguez Rodriguez plan to endorse mayoral challenger Billy Delgado.
Wisniewski said Delgado is “the real Democrat” in his race against incumbent Mayor Wilda Diaz.
“Unlike Mayor Diaz, Billy Delgado shares our Democratic Party ideals and principles. Billy is pro-choice, supports unions and collective bargaining and opposes siphoning tax dollars away from our public schools,” said Wisniewski. “Mayor Diaz disagrees with us on all of these key issues. Her very conservative views are more in line with her friend Chris Christie and out of step with our values.”
The threesome felt muzzled for weeks by a discomfiting backstory involving campaign consultant Jim Devine, who insulted the mayor in emails, but Devine says he’s out and that’s good enough for a public declaration of Delgado support by the trio.
“I think the Devine issue was a distraction for the Delgado campaign,” Wisniewski told PolitickerNJ.com, acknowledging it’s better for Devine to leave the field at this point in the interest of the voters being allowed to make “a clear decision.”
“This race is not about who hired what consultant where,” Wisniewski added. “Everybody wants to talk about Jim Devine. I don’t think it’s a relevant issue… I didn’t see the email. I just think we ought to move forward and focus on the candidates.”
Donna Chiera, the president of the Perth Amboy local of the American Federation of Teachers that endorsed Delgado on Monday, will also speak. The AFT has about 1,500 active and retired members in Perth Amboy and very rarely endorses candidates in local elections.
Diaz Campaign Manager Tom Zambrowski reacted to the news.
“It is incomprehensible that the state Democratic chairman would endorse a candidate who ran on the same Republican ticket as Brett Schundler, voted in two Republican primaries, ran as a registered Republican for mayor several years ago and has yet to vote in one Democratic primary over the past decade. The man John Wisniewski is supporting attempted to cut a secret, corrupt deal with former mayor Joe Vas to move to Perth Amboy in exchange for a taxpayer funded job and just recently spent weeks excusing sexist comments made by his consultant against the state’s first directly elected Latina mayor.
“By contrast, Wilda Diaz is a lifelong Democrat who has the support of the state’s top Democrats, from Congressman Albio Sires to State Senators Richard Codey, Joe Vitale and Barbara Buono. If John Wisniewski truly believes that a Republican like Billy Delgado is more representative of his views than a lifelong Democrat and incumbent Latina mayor, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate whether he belongs as the person best suited to represent New Jersey’s Democratic Party.”