Everyone in Jersey City today was talking about Bill O’Dea’s Monday night bash at Liberty House, which surprised even the affable O’Dea, a long-serving freeholder who’s eyeing a 2017 run for mayor.
O’Dea pulled in $200,000 last night.
But his citywide plans hinge on what happens with sitting Mayor Steven Fulop, who’s prepping a run for governor, and both men may have to find out what voters have to say about a JC ballot question before they set in motion their political machinations. If the ballot question passes in November, the election would move from May of 2017 to November of 2017, enabling Fulop to run for governor without giving up his mayoral perch.
In a conversation with Observer New Jersey earlier today, O’Dea said, “Steve Fulop is a good friend and I would never run against him.”
There’s also Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) – another Fulop Team player – out there dangling a more than a big toe into the 2017 mayoral drama.
“I have a very good relationship with Raj, and I don’t that expect he and I would run against each other,” said O’Dea, who didn’t rule out a contest if they can’t resolve their plans.
All O’Dea knows is that it feels right.
“I’ve waited a long time,” he said, “and I just have a really good feeling about this. People were happy to be there last night. They were there to enjoy themselves, and they did.”
He’s not without enemies. He says in casual conversation that he likes sitting Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, but for years he’s badgered and bothered DeGise as that anti-establishment chair on the freeholder board. At times O’Dea has also tried the patience of North Hudson kingpin state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32), a DeGise protector.
How far will Fulop and state Senator Brian P. Stack (D-33) go in support of O’Dea.
“Brian will be back and forth for a long time until he absolutely has to make a decision,” said a source close to Stack, referencing the powerful senator’s ties to both O’Dea and Mukherji, his 33rd District slate mate.
For his part, O’Dea intends to gingerly move ahead, paying close attention to the coming ballot question.
“I’ve made no formal announcement,” he said. “I wouldn’t make a formal announcement until I knew Steven wasn’t running. He’s my friend and he’s given me no reason to run against him. I hope the ballot question passes. From a selfish perspective too, I think of all the great things that could occur if we had a governor from Jersey City.”