Casting Call: The 2015 Election Day Players, Rivalries and the Stakes

Garcia greets a voter. Photo by Alyana Alfaro.

Garcia greets a voter. Photo by Alyana Alfaro.

Ray Lesniak

State Senator Ray Lesniak.

He wants to take control of the School Board in Elizabeth. He wins, he can chest thump with abandon and lay claim to having defeated his local nemesis Rafael Fajardo. He loses? It’s an irritating embarrassment as Lesniak attempts to rev up his 2017 gubernatorial campaign.

belgardinwillingboroAimee Belgard

The Burlington County Freeholder is in the dogfight of her political life. She wins, she’s among a handful of heroes – people like Chris Brown and/or Sam Fiocchi – who can brag about having beat the machine. She loses and she’s yesterday’s news, another Democrat who took a stab at that CD3 seat and went down in a heap.



Rafael Fajardofajardo

Could…this… really…. be… the end? With the help of seasoned operative Pablo Fonseca, the longtime local strongman is trying to maintain control of an Elizabeth empire under siege by forces aligned with Lesniak and Mayor Chris Bollwage. If Fajardo loses this election, he will arguably no longer be the muscled up political presence feared on the east side of Union County.

Assemblywoman Mary Pat AngeliniMary Pat Angelini

Jolted by a PAC ad targeting her non-profit work, the LD11 Republican has a strong base she has built over many years of cross-the-aisle goodwilll, and may be able to use the attack against her opponents to surface in the future as a go-to LG option. If she loses tonight, of course that’s over.



Jim KeadyDSCN1407

Irritated by the lack of stronger support from the party for his uphill LD30 bid, will Jim “Shut Down and Sit Up” Keady reemerge as a challenger to the rule of popular Monmouth County GOP Chairman Vin Gopal?


FernandoAlonsoFernando Alonso

Recruited in the 11th hour to put Bergen Republicans on his back in LD38, the Oradell attorney found himself elbowed out of the picture by Republicans who didn’t want to spend money on funding a ballot do-over. Will Alonso repackage himself for a 2016 run at veteran Chairman Bob Yudin? A GOP source says don’t bet on it. The smart money on a Yudin challenger is on insider Jack Zisa.

jacksonManny Martinez and Mike Jackson


There are other candidates in the Paterson Ward 1 race, but educator Martinez has the tacit or outright backing of most of the Democratic Party establishment, while businessman Jackson – a former professional football player – has ward-wide name ID. Whoever wins this race will have to run again for the full four-year term next May, but will have traction as the next ward player from Paterson.

FulopNov.10.2014Steven Fulop

The mayor wants voters to pass a referendum question today that would move the mayor’s election from May of 2017 to November of 2017. If they pass it, it’s a solid win for Fulop, who probably wants to run for governor in the June 2017 primary without having to first secure reelection that same May. If he loses, it’s one of those irritations he will have to settle next year.

 Lou StellatoStellatoWestwoodMay20,2015

Democrats associated with the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee (DACC) will in the coming months and years quietly point out that they – not Bergen Dems – operated the catapult that demolished Tony Cappola and effectively turned Bergen this year into a Democratic Party playground. But Stellato is the one who has done the careful organization on the ground in the northern county for years now, and with another big convincing countywide win will be able to strengthen his claim as one of the most important Democratic Party chairs.

ggilmoreGeorge Gilmore

The former holder of the law contract in Brick, the Ocean County GOP chairman would love to reclaim a majority on the local governing body and toss Democrats out of power. It will be tough this year, sources say, but a win by Republicans in Brick would reanimate Gilmore.


John Curriecurrieevent

Don’t forget, the Democratic State Party Chairman is still chairman of the party in Passaic County. Republicans are running hard there, and looking to embarrass Currie in his home turf. Countywide wins by the seasoned Democratic Party leader would enable Currie to occupy a stage at the end of the evening and honestly transmit statewide victory vibes.


Casting Call: The 2015 Election Day Players, Rivalries and the Stakes