ATLANTIC CITY – Through the half-light of the Ri Ra bar at a Tuesday afternoon New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference event, a verbal bullet hit a sensitive political target seconds after the party’s start.
“Did you see the next Assemblyman?” shouted a reveler at the event sponsored by Lenox Consulting and NW Financial at the Tropicana Hotel, pointing his cocktail in the direction of Bayonne-based Democrat Nicholas Chiaravalloti, 42, the apparent heir apparent to one 31st Legislative District state Assembly seat in the aftermath of this year’s hard-fought Bayonne mayoral race. “There he is, baby!”
The mayor of Bayonne traditionally plays the lead role in selecting one of the state Assembly members from the 31st LD, which includes all of Bayonne and parts of Jersey City. During the 2014 Bayonne mayoral race, the two incumbent assemblymen, Democrats Charles Mainor and Jason O’Donnell, both backed then-incumbent Mayor Mark Smith, who was defeated by insurgent candidate Jimmy Davis in a June runoff. O’Donnell also served as campaign manager for Smith. Ironically, he served in the same role for Chairavalotti during his ill-fated 2007 state Assembly run.
Davis’ Irish eyes were definitely smiling in the direction of Chiaravalotti at the Tuesday event. Davis, sworn into office in July, told PolitickerNJ on Monday that he would announce his LD 31 pick by the end of this month. O’Donnell, a potential 2018 Bayonne mayoral candidate, and Chairavalotti have both declined comment about the LD 31 situation.
But Joe DeMarco, Davis’ campaign manager who is now the Bayonne business administrator, threw down a Hudson County-style gauntlet when asked about any potential LD 31 primary battle to come.
“It shouldn’t come down to a primary,” DeMarco told PolitickerNJ. “In a place like Hudson County, and in Bayonne, if you have the Democratic line, it’s Mount Everest to climb.”