LYNDHURST – When you’re late here on Sunday in this crammed-together conglomerate of Lyndhurst, Rutherford, Wallington, North Arlington, East Rutherford, Wood-Ridge and Carlstadt, the obvious explanation is mass went overtime.
That’s the excuse Jim Tedesco had as he rammed through the Reginald Marsh streetscape of ballparks, firehouses, gas stations, bakeries, statue-heavy Roman Catholic churchyards, and local town halls, and into a sweltering room packed with recognizable politicos native to South Bergen and routine Passaic allies long part of the Bill Pascrell caravan.
“I’m a great big supporter of a former student,” said U.S. Rep. Pascrell (D-9), the one-time Paramus High School creative writing teacher standing in a crowd that included Tedesco, Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36), Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-36), Mayor Robert B. Giangeruso and Bergen County freeholders Tracy Zur of Franklin Lakes and Steve Tanelli of neighboring North Arlington.
There are mutterings in both camps – Tedesco’s and that of his rival, incumbent County Executive Kathe Donovan – about a very comfortable double digit Donovan lead in what is supposed to be the marquee New Jersey contest of the season.
In those seven crunched-together South Bergen towns, including this one, home to the second most registered Democrats (3,149), after Rutherford, of the seven towns in question, Democrats hope Pascrell can help boost Tedesco. Registered Dems outnumber Republicans 14,271 to 9,176, but Donovan typically pulls big from unaffiliated voters, who compose the bulk of voters.
“He [Tedesco] knows he has a tough race, but that’s not going to stop him,” said Pascrell as he opened his South Bergen campaign headquarters smack in Donovan’s home base.
The congressman has a “w” shaped district that dips from Paterson southeast to Lyndhurst then back up to Fort Lee.
Insiders see this Lyndhurst campaign office – the congressman has at least two others, one in Paterson and one in Passaic – as the busy forward line in this cycle where the Bergen Executive’s race dominates.
“We need every vote,” said Pascrell (who faces Republican Dr. Dierdre Paul this year in a Democratic district), targeting the county executive’s race. “We need to register a lot of voters. Two years ago, we registered 10,000 voters in two months. You want to help us and help our ticket, that’s what you need to do.”
Having helped Pascrell in South Bergen in 2012, former Bergen Freeholder Bernadette McPherson had a brand new translucent yellow clipboard, and she pulled door duty with Ritzy Morales, resplendent in an eight-ball hairdo and high heels.
Other Passaic politicians in the room included Freeholders Bruce James, T.J. Best and John Bartlett; Paterson Councilman Andre Sayegh, Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark, and Passaic County clerk candidate Jeff Gardner of Hawthorne.
“Do you want to say a word, Jimmy?” Pascrell asked the executive candidate in a room drenched in sweat.
“No,” Tesdesco cracked to laughs before the crowd made a beeline for the front door.