WINNERS and LOSERS: Post Mortem

WINNERS

Chris Christie

The Republican governor of New Jersey won overwhelmingly in a state with a 700,000 advantage in registered Democrats, deepening his national calling card of a bipartisan executive leader. He won bellwether Bergen County by 50,000 votes, an awesome achievement.

Steve Sweeney

There was one man standing after the Senate President’s statewide brawl with Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., and it wasn’t the senate minority leader. Sweeeny maintaining his iron (sorry about the pun) clad grip on his 24-16 majority in the state Senate. At the end of the night, even Bob Gordon in LD 38 was still standing. The Bergen-Record had picked against him, and was riding a streak of picking winners. 

Mike DuHaime

The political tactician of Christie’s ambitions wants another chance at a national run, and this time has a fellow New Jerseyan who wants to make the run. DuHaime is in position.

Mike Muller

The Democratic operative kept telling sweating allies that they were going to be okay. He was right. The startegist’s combination of targeted voting and staying away from Christie combined with the natural dimensions of the map to produce uniform wins for Democrats where Muller called them – which was everywhere, with apologies to Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-1).

Wayne DeAngelo

The Democratic IBEW leader with bedrock Building Trades ties was again unofficially the top vote-getter among legislative candidates in the all-combat LD14.

Donald Payne, Jr.

The 10th District Congressman went all in (endorsements, teleconferences, robocalls, cash) in Hillside and picked the right candidate in top vote-getter Angela Garretson.

Kevin McCabe

The chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Committee backed Councilman Thomas Lankey in the Edison mayor’s race and helped gut out a win, a good starting point for a man who has been on the job for six months.

Kevin O’Toole

The mechanically-minded senator from LD40 stands in line to succeed Kean if Republicans remove the sitting Senate minority leader and seek a replacement who is close to the governor. While Kean was throwing political hand grenades at Sweeney, O’Toole was riding the Christie tour bus with the governor and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and partying in Union City with state Sen. Brian P. Stack (D-33).

Bill Castner

The buttoned-down attorney from South Jersey was in the middle of those backroom knifefights two years ago during redistricting when the Democratic map prevailed despite Christie charging into the middle of the fray for the GOP. It was Castner more than any other single player at that time who intellectually coalesced a ragtag troop of Democrats to secure a Democratic legislative map during a cycle that will last ten years.

John Currie

Under the leadership of the Passaic County Democratic chairman, incumbent Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik and the the county Democratic freeholder slate won through the worry of Christie at the top of the ticket.  Christie won Passaic County and did well in Paterson but did not have the coattails he did in 2009, when he dragged three Republicans across the finish line.

Incumbent Mayors in Morris County

Backstabbed by his own party in Parsippany, Republican Mayor James Barbiero survived and so did Democrat Tim Dougherty (with 70% of the vote) in Morristown.

Don Guardian

He rode around town on his bicyle and talked to people – that’s the mythology around the roots of the shocking victory last night of the GOP challenger in Atlantic City. Guardian blasted out Mayor Lorenzo Langford to become the Republican mayor of an urban center. While the GOP in South Jersey’s legislative districts chafed under the Christie GN3 lovefest, Guardian put his head down and took advantage of a fat target in Langford, who coincidentally had been a fiery local adversary of the governor’s.

Sharpe James

He’s already strutting around Newark in seven league boots, according to mortified sources. Last night his son, Afghanistan War veteran John Sharpe James, served up a big win to land a seat as an at-large councilman on the Newark City Council. The elder James already has strong ties to the acting mayor, Luis Quintana. Now he has a son on the city council, too. James is in a very strong negotiating position as Newark heads into the thick of a mayor’s race.

James Tedesco

The mayor of Paramus is in the pole position to win a freeholder seat in Bergen County, hanging onto machine vote totals that put him right now over incumbent Freeholder John Felice.

Anthony Salter

The lowkey Hillside Democratic Party operative was the local mastermind behind Garretson’s win in Hillside.

Bob Greco and Mike Donohue

The classy GOP chairman of Cumberland County possibly the lone win of the legislative cycle for the GOP with Freeholder Sam Fiocchi’s victory over Assemblyman Nelson Albano in LD 1. Fiocchi also beat Albano by five percentage points in Cape May, GOP Chairman Donohue’s domain. 

Rob Hermansen

The former GOP freeholder appears to have prevailed in his bid for a council seat in his hometown of Mahwah. Right now, Hermansen has 1,558 machine votes compared to Jonathan Marcus’ 1,513. A third candidate in the race garnering 1,255 votes split the bipartisan anti-Hermansen vote.

LOSERS

Tom Kean, Jr.

He went 0-5. The sharp-tailored son of former Gov. Tom Kean, Sr. put resources – and bad blood – into LD 3, the equivalent of pulling a rodeo clown rundown with the wild bulls of Pamplona. Critics of Kean’s said that rather than stir up the volcanic Senate president, he should have spent more resources on LD14 and LD38. Hindsight is 20-20, but if the Senate minority leader had concentrated more firepower in Middlesex and Bergen he might have been able to snipe state Sen. Linda Greenstein and Gordon. After six years of service as the GOP leader in the senate, Kean could find himself heading for the chopping block.

Lorenzo Langford

Christie, 3; Langford, 0. The mayor of Atlantic City had the city behind him in his ongoing fistfight with the governor of New Jersey, or so he thought. While Langford huffed and puffed at his statewide nemesis, he couldn’t see  Guardian sneaking up behind him – and neither could most of the rest of the state. This was the final kiss-off to a long line of losses by Langford in his scrum with Christie. He lost the gaming district fight, appeared flummoxed by Hurricane Sandy, and now gets carried out on the cold slab of an election.

Barbara Buono

The sacrificial lamb from Middlesex put up a good fight, went down fighting and threw the Jersey elbow at the fat suits in her own party on her way out the door, but the Democratic nominee and veteran senator for governor lacked relationships, and in politics that can come to only one end: a dead one. PolitickerNJ.com once asked a Middlesex County pol at the bar what the most important word was in politics and he didn’t hesitate: “Relationships.” 

Pete Inverso

It hurts most when you’re close and don’t make it. The former state senator came within striking distance of unseating Linda Greenstein but did not have the resources in the end to land convincing blows when it counted in an environment overrun by independent expenditures.

South Jersey Republican Legislative Candidates

With apologies to Sam Fiocchi, who laid out Nelson Albano in what might be the GOP’s only legislative win last night, the party organizations and their charges had to sit on the sidelines during this past cycle and watch Christie and Sweeney reach for the shovels to turn another round of dirt as flash bulbs dutifully popped. It was nerve-wracking, and whatever local and countywide pick-ups Republicans celebrated could not dim the frustration at having very nearly struck out in legislative tilts. Look for candidates to surface in Trenton with new jobs, phones and desks courtesy of the Christie administration.

Teachers turned candidates

That lurid finger in the face shot of Christie dressing down a teacher failed to sufficiently galvanize the supporters of Marie Corfield, an art teacher who went down for the third time in her stab at an LD16 Assembly seat. Democrats giddily pitched the story of how they had a shot in the Somerset County-centric district, a narrative arc that veteran state Sen. Kip Bateman (R-16) just as quickly shot down with the reasoning that if Corfield couldn’t win with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket last year, she couldn’t win running against the top of the ticket presence of Christie. The NJEA and the other PAC spent north of $1 million in TV and radio, plus a couple hundred thousand in mail and online going hard after Assemblywoman Donna Simon and got their clocks cleaned.  Chairman Al Gaburo has already coined the phrase “Strike three, Marie!” Corfield wasn’t the only teaching professional to eat a loss last night. Thrown out of the Assembly after his clash with Stack over public pensions and benefits, Ruben Ramos came up short in his mayoral bid against incumbent Dawn Zimmer in Hoboken.

Joe Menza

Watch for the likeable mayor of Hillside to surface in the Christie administration if he loses the runoff. It’s unlikely that Menza, a bitter enemy of the local Democratic machine helmed by Charlotte DeFilippo, will be able to survive against Angela Garretson, last night’s top vote getter in the mayor’s race. DeFilippo’s candidate came in third and is likely to back Garretson in the head-to-head.

The Elizabeth Board of Education 

Union County power broker Ray Lesniak wanted three but he went 2-1 last night in his local battle with the Elizabeth BOE and shrunk the tentacles of the board with wins by allies in Hillside and Roselle. It’s still trending the wrong way for Rafael Fajardo and company.

Tim Eustace

We know we keep writing that Albano was the lone casualty but Eustace, the Democratic assemblyman from the 38th District, may go down too and right now is dangling over the abyss. His Republican challenger, Joe Scarpa, leads Eustace by 65 votes with provisional ballots yet to be counted. Eustace could be a winner by the end of the week – or the end of the day, but right now he is in a pressure cooker with his political life on the line.

Nelson Albano

There are casualties in every war, as state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-28) once said after losing his two running mates. For state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1), victory this time came with the bitter cost of losing his sturdy ally, Albano, who was the GOP’s juciest target throughout the cycle following his hard fall in the aftermath of a much publicized traffic stop gone wrong.

The Bergen Record

We love the paper, but they picked wrong in the LD38 Senate contest. The Record has been so good that when they chose Republican Fernando Alonso over Gordon it looked like the death knell for the incumbent Democrat, but he survived, with the upper cut to the pundits on his way to the winner’s circle. 

Dave Redlawsk

The pollster from Rutgers’ last poll showed Christie over Buono by 36 points and a possible coattail effect, which didn’t materialize. Monmouth, Stockton and Faireligh Dickinson were all closer to Christie’s unoffocial margin of victory of 22.5%. 

AKPD Message and Media

The PR campaign early of the Buono messaging team was that Barack Obama was coming to take on Christie, and they convinced Buono to put her money in TV over field. Needless to say, that didn’t stop Obama from coming to the boardwalk to bear hug his old pal Christie and cold shoulder Buono.

WINNERS and LOSERS: Post Mortem