An unmistakable shock of white hair crested in Hoboken this morning, signaling a South Jersey salt water presence in northern river waters. It was George Norcross III, sporting a beard and ambling into the Malibu Diner for a sit-down with Union City Mayor/33rd District Senator Brian P. Stack.
PolitickerNJ asked the source if the beard was a disguise, a la Floyd Paterson after his fight with Sonny Liston at Comiskey Park (thank you for your boxing acumen, Alan Steinberg!), or simply battle mode ahead of 2017. The source replied unequivocally, “Battle mode.”
Sources say Norcross continues to champion the gubernatorial candidacy of his regional ally, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), in a developing field of mostly unannounced Democratic candidates that includes Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
Stack has had a longtime strong political relationship with Sweeney and Norcross. But he didn’t show at a powwow of establishment players last month attended by Norcross, and he has strong ties in Fulop’s City Hall. Mercurial, elusive and politically unpredictable, the powerful Stack backed the reelection of Democrat Jon Corzine in 2009, then endorsed Republican Chris Christie in 2013. He’s a key player because he controls half of Northern Hudson county with a crack political organization.
Hudson sources insist that he will be with backyard ally Fulop if it comes down to a fight with Sweeney. But no one acts like it’s a totally done deal, and the appearance with Norcross this morning on Stack’s home turf amid fast accelerating gubernatorial politics had political operatives up and down the state wondering about where he intends to go.