As this contest accelerates toward Tuesday, Hoboken born and raiseds wring their hands in hopes of delivering incumbent Freeholder Anthony Romano back to the board.
Forged of local police badge tin and mile-square baseball diamond lime, Romano (pictured) got dumped when the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) bumped up attorney Phil Cohen, resident emblem of the yuppie crowd that put Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer in office over the cries of the old Russo crowd epitomized by the likes of Perry Belfiore.
Sources aligned with Romano now are convinced that those same smoke-filled dens of countywide party depravity that put Cohen on the line because she was Zimmer’s choice, are belly laughing their way back to Romano behind the scenes.
Moreover, “Sires and Booker are not campaigning in Hoboken because they like Stick [Romano],” a source told PolitickerNJ.
Nick likes Stick, or so spins the source.
It doesn’t add up.
U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) isn’t in Hoboken not out of any personal affection for Romano but because his home base of West New York rides on the HCDO eradicating incumbent Freeholder Jose Munoz from office.
The safety-conscious, peace-loving Booker is not involving himself in any contentious local or countywide contests.
Notwithstanding his inability to win over the hearts and minds of upper-limbed establishment players, Romano continues to run a good campaign. He’s well-liked and well-known. He’s walking and is capitalizing on social media to look like he’s in step with the times.
He has anti-Zimmer partisans in last-stand mode: people like local Party Chairman Jamie Cryan, Councilman Tim Occhipinti and supermarket owner Frank Raia (who in 2008 beat Romano in Hoboken but lost in the Jersey City Heights portion of the district).
He has the benefit too of a candidate who’s not well known outside Zimmerworld.
But he still lacks the Hudson County party line, and Sacco wants those HCDO-endorsed candidates to win, in part to flex what he and others around him in North Bergen see as a reborn outfit under the leadership of HCDO Chairman (and Assembly Speaker) Vincent Prieto (D-32).
Cohen also lacks love from Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who’s building a relationship with Cohen and has the added incentive of drilling up big numbers for the establishment candidate in his roughly 30% of the freeholder district under the leadership of Shawn “Sully” Thomas, Fulop’s Jersey City Heights political minder.
Thomas has some added incentive to perform well against former boss Romano.
Relations between the two men soured.
If Romano in a low turnout election can coalesce Hoboken’s born and raised vote and run his hometown results to 50-50% against the lesser known Cohen, the two candidates will head into the Heights section basically on even terms with pal turned political foe Thomas quietly in revenge mode on behalf of Cohen, one Hudson source said.
But at least one other source told PolitickerNJ that Hoboken, the bulk of the district, will be the battleground for this race, where Cohen will have the GOTV benefit of those same Zimmer contacts – most of them yuppies – the mayor used last year in catapulting herself back into office.