FORT LEE – If Democratic Bergen County Executive candidate Jim Tedesco hopes to win in the fall, he will have to make inroads in a place where the streets are familiar to Republican incumbent Kathleen Donovan: South Bergen County.
Donovan, who was raised in Lyndhurst, went to high school in North Arlington and now resides in Rutherford, is not an unfamiliar politician in the southern part of Bergen, a county in which the long-time politico has wide overall name recognition.
But Tedesco, a Bergen County freeholder, could look to the 2012 Ninth Congressional District Democratic primary as a sign that some progress can be made against a candidate that has solid name recognition in the area.
Following the Congressional redistricting in the wake of the 2010 U.S. census, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. collided with fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, who close to fight Pascrell for the newly-redrawn CD 9 seat after Rothman’s then-home base in Fair Lawn was moved into the Fifth Congressional District.
Rothman, who was well known in South Bergen, did well in towns such as Lyndhurst, Rutherford, Carlstadt, North Arlington and East Rutherford, winning them all. Yet Pascrell still garnered 26 percent of the vote in the Bergen towns in the new CD 9, which, combined with a resounding 90 percent win the Passaic portions of the district, allowed Pascrell to keep his seat.
“Jim is a great guy, and we’re going to work as a team,” Pascrell told PolitickerNJ on Tuesday outside of a meet-and-greet event at a Fort Lee senior center. “Every candidate that’s going to run against an incumbent is going to be critical, but that doesn’t win campaigns. What wins is what you’re going to do when you get a job. Stick to that. Jim has also got to register as many people as he can. Don’t forget – this is an off-year election. How many people are going to come out to vote? You can’t decide that in September and October. If you don’t do the work now, it ain’t going to happen.”
“I definitely believe Congressman Pascrell will give me an advantage,” Tedesco, a former student of Pascrell at Paramus High School in the 1960s. “He’s brought a tremendous amount of financial resources to first-responder personnel in Bergen County, and I’ve been a firefighter for 38 years. There’s a synergy and connection right there.”