Sources: Garcia and Mukherji to run in LD33

Petitions are circulating in North Hudson for Jersey City Deputy Mayor Raj Mukherji and Hoboken Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia.

Sources say the pair will run on the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) line with state Sen. Brian P. Stack (D-33).

The names emerged after days of intense negotiations among the chief players.

The outcome surprised most insiders.

When Stack and HCDO Chairman Mark Smith struck a peace treaty last week, political insiders assumed that the mayors of Jersey City and Hoboken would select Stack’s running mates.

Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy did.

Mukherji is a key Healy ally.

But Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer didn’t.

Zimmer had wanted Councilman Ravi Bhalla, whose fundraising prowess and apparent willingness to support Gov. Chris Christie initiatives made him a tantalizing prospect.

Stack is close to Christie, has called him the greatest governor ever and may endorse the GOP incumbent governor after the Democratic Primary.

While Bhalla jockeyed for the job, his local political foe, Councilwoman Beth Mason, also labored for Stack’s attention.

Like Bhalla, Mason boasted financial clout.

But the peace that Stack secured with Smith made money less of an urgent condition for a running mate, a source told

Mason, moreover, was uncomfortable with the idea of aligning herself with a pro-Christie ticket, a source said.

One trait Stack preferred as he considered a replacement for departing Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-33) was that he or she be Hispanic.

It’s the going demographic of the 33rd District.

As Hudson Democrats for weeks keyed in on the Bhalla/Mason rivalry in Hoboken, insiders assumed Stack’s Latina candidate would emerge out of the Jersey City Heights portion of the district.

But ultimately, Hoboken 4th Ward brand name Garcia prevailed.

As for recent law school graduate Mukherji, co-founder of Impact NJ Government Affairs with Michael Murphy, the alliance represents the second time in as many legislative cycles that Stack has shouldered a close Healy ally.

Two years ago, again for the sake of peace, he reluctantly agreed to accept Assemblyman Sean Connors (D-33), then a detective, to join the 33rd enterprise as a replacement for the redistricted Assemblywoman Caridad Rodriguez (D-33).

But Connors ran afoul of the Healy organization and the HCDO in recent months. Dumped, he resurfaced as a ward council candidate on the Steve Fulop citywide ticket.

As for Ramos, he’s running for mayor against Zimmer.

A source told that Mukherji beat Jersey City Councilman Bill Gaughan for support. 

Despite Stack’s firm allegiance to Christie, there is no expectation of Garcia and Mukherji having to offer their support to Christie as a condition for going to the Assembly, sources said.

Sources: Garcia and Mukherji to run in LD33