In that high-ceilinged federal courtroom in Newark, West New York Mayor Felix Roque told his attorneys that the battle was between him and Hudson County Freeholder Jose Munoz.
Munoz was on the witness stand explaining how he used a wire to prove that Roque tried to punish him for setting up an anonymous website against him.
Roque beat the rap, and now it’s still Roque v. Munoz, with Munoz up for re-election next year.
Sources say insiders are all on edge around him. He was walking around the county with a wire and people feel vaguely creeped out at the notion of having been recorded.
There’s an overriding urge to dump Munoz.
The trouble is there are at least three different factions who have to decide on the next commissioner to represent Guttenberg, Weehawken and West New York.
They belong to state Sen. Nick Sacco (D-32), U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) and Roque.
Sources said Roque’s best play was to present Commissioner FiorD’Aliza Frias with the chance to move up, but Frias just last week endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
“I went through this already with Kyrillos,” an operative moaned, crunching the phone down after learning of the endorsement.
Roque’s backing of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos was, in the belief of street people around here – part of the springboard for getting the mayor in trouble locally in the first place.
So Frias right now looks less than plausible for advancement in this Democratic county – unless Christie’s operatives are so strategic that there’s something we don’t see in the relationship between the GOP governor and this particular group of Hudson Democrats.
Sires’s longtime ally looks more palatable – Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez, the former assemblywoman from LD 32.
Sacco’s the kingpin and will ultimately decide.
He wants loyalty.
In dead last for the job – if you don’t count Munoz – is Commissioner Count Wiley, local mayoral candidate whose recall effort failed the same day a jury unshackled Roque.
“One Wiley is enough,” Sacco reportedly told a source, referring to the commissioner’s father, an embattled North Bergen DPW chief.
Roque’s future as mayor hinges on the deal-making, with his ally, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32), ready to run against Roque if the mayor can’t rearm out of city hall after over a year of legal wrangling and guillotine blade theatrics.
Also angling for a return is former Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega.