TEANECK – It was a surreal moment on Sunday in Teaneck, reflecting the hocus-pocus of politics, less than 48 hours before Election Day.
Inside the Teaneck General Store on Cedar Lane, the Democratic candidates in Bergen County’s two most critical races, Jim Tedesco for Bergen County Executive, and Roy Cho for the Fifth Congressional District seat, greeted owner Bruce Prince, shaking hands and smiling. The two men, insurgents seeking to oust incumbents, were guided by state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), the doyenne of the Bergen Democrats and a Teaneck resident.
“You should come back tonight. A local kid is putting on a magic show here, presenting tricks and illusions. It’s perfect for politicians,” Prince said smiling, as the group Cho called “his army” laughed. “You guys can learn the tricks of the trade.”
Cho and Tedesco were seeking some last-minute voter magic in Teaneck, a Democratic stronghold, in the waning moments of two hard-fought campaigns. Tedesco was already sprinkled with some positive political pixie dust on Sunday when he got the endorsement of The Record over Republican incumbent Kathleen Donovan.
Tedesco told PolitickerNJ that while he was pleased with the Record’s nod, he was in Teaneck as part of campaigning hard to the end.
“Certainly the urban areas are important to our get-out-the-vote effort,” Tedesco said before hopping on his campaign bus. “But we’re going to go all over.”
Cho and Weinberg, also accompanied by incumbent Democratic freeholder Joan Voss, proceeded to go all over Cedar Lane, into Smokey Joe’s barbecue restaurant, Al’s Charcoal Pit diner, Noah’s Ark deli, Bischoff’s ice cream parlor and the Judaica House bookstore, where copies of “Haikus for Jews” were for sale.
Many people on Cedar Lane embraced Weinberg, whose political career was sparked by her concerns about conditions on Teaneck’s main drag.
“This is classic retail politics,” said Weinberg. “We are driving the vote out, and that’s what this does.”
It might be Weinberg’s street, but it’s Cho race to win or lose on Tuesday. Moments after Weinberg told him to dress warmer, Cho told PolitickerNJ that he believes his continued strong retail efforts, evidenced, for example, by many Facebook postings of Cho at Bergen County train stations, will help lead to an upset victory over six-term Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett.
“We’ve had a tremendous response. I think that the voters are energized and sophisticated. They know the issues, and they know what’s at stake,” said Cho, who was interrupted several times by well-wishers who noted that they had already voted for him by mail.
Approximately 70 percent of the Fifth Congressional District’s voting population lives in Bergen County. The 2010 Congressional redistricting moved Democratic-leaning Bergen municipalities such as Hackensack and most of Teaneck into CD 5.
Cho knows the introduction of these Bergen municipalities into the district, among other factors, could help him pull a political rabbit out of a hat on Tuesday.
“We’ve been targeting non-traditional voters, people who have been disengaged from politics. And a lot of moderate Republicans have been coming up to us in the last couple of days, saying that they are supporting us,” said Cho, a swipe at Garrett’s relatively conservative voting record. “This is how we are going to pull this out.”