ATLANTIC CITY – The Indian God Ganesha sat in a glass case in the middle of the ornate interior of the Foundation Room in the Showboat where a beaming Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto (D-32) welcomed an eclectic group of guests.
Prieto’s advance staff likely had no idea of forging a subliminal connection between Prieto and the colorfully adorned statue, but it so happens that Ganesha is the diety in charge of removing obstacles, and Prieto says he has a similar goal.
“I’m a consensus builder,” said the man annointed speaker by the new nexus of South Jersey and Hudson County. “What you see here is indicative of what we are trying to do in Hudson as well as statewide.”
It’s been a good year for Prieto, who in the aftermath of the Jersey City mayor’s race succeeded Mark Smith as chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) and then secured the votes to succeed Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-34).
Oliver’s Essex allies attended Prieto’s event: Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and his chief of staff, Phil Alagia.
“Leadership in part is putting good people around you,” said DiVincenzo.
In Prieto’s case, the people in the room included Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Newark South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka, state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36), assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), Assemblywoman-elect Nancy Pinkin (D-18), Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32), Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29), Assemblyman-elect Carmelo Garcia (D-33), Hudson County freeholders Jeff Dublin, Bill O’Dea and Junior Maldonado, Essex County Freeholder Rufus Johnson, Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach, Newark mayoral rivals North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos and South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka, Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Prieto political operative Joey Muniz, lobbyist Karen Kominsky and her husband, Lambertville Mayor Dave DelVecchio, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez State Director Paul Brubaker, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker State Director Mo Butler, lobbyist Josh Hodes, attorney Bill Harla and Burlington County labor operative Jason Carty.
SEIU 1199 leader Milly Silva was also in the room.
Beaten two weeks ago as the LG candidate on a ticket with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, Silva has been an active and energized presence in many rooms at this League of Muncipalities conference.
“She didn’t go and lie on a beach somewhere, that’s for sure,” croaked one insider, impressed by her visibility as the smiling Silva glided past in the exotic decor.