Ravi Bhalla trounced in NJ Assembly run
Ramos and Connors annihilate Bhalla and Zimmer
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos and Jersey City Police Detective Sean Connors rolled over Councilman Ravi Bhalla like a steamroller in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary.
It’s the latest in a string of defeats for Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who also lost control of the city Democratic Party.
More independent candidates for committee defeated those who had sworn allegiance to the Mayor. Bhalla led people to believe he would win Hoboken and had support in other parts of the district. Instead, he lost Hoboken to both Ramos and Connors, and ended up with less than 3000 votes (~9%) district-wide to nearly 14,000 votes for Ramos and Connors.
Bhalla’s claims to be interested in reforming government rang false to voters who looked into his history of pay-to-play activities and conflicts during his term on the city council.
Critics: 3 elections show Mayor is a “Lame Duck”
The annihilation of Bhalla and loss of the Democratic Committee is the third in a string of defeats for Zimmer. In April all three of her endorsed candidates for Board of Education were trounced.
In May, Zimmer only managed to win two of six city council seats, and lost citywide by over 1000 votes.
The only good news for Zimmer is that Bhalla’s weak showing yesterday may make him less likely to mount a challenge to her re-election bid in 2013, assuming revelations to come from the FBI investigation of City Hall don’t make another Zimmer run for office impossible.
Bhalla sick of the City Council, wants to go to Trenton!
April 12, 2011:
Ravinder S. Bhalla has only been a Hoboken city councilman for 1 year, 9 months and 11 days, and already he wants out.
Today he filed petitions to run for New Jersey State Assembly. Bhalla’s time on the council has been marred by allegations he voted to award a legal contract to his friend and office-mate despite an obvious conflict of interest, as well as an expose of his Pay-to-Pay activities to secure no-bid public legal contracts for his law firm. This was followed by the exposure of Bhalla’s failure to file state mandated disclosure forms outlining campaign contributions in cities where he held contracts. Now, Hoboken’s “Pay-to-Play King” wants to be a State Assemblyman.
Bhalla files to challenge Ramos and Connors
Bhalla wants his name on the ballot for the June 7th Democratic Primary in the newly re-drawn 33rd District. This district currently includes Hoboken, Union City, West New York, and part of Jersey City.
Because of the 2010 census, the district will lose heavily Hispanic West New York and add much more of Jersey City, which is why Connors is replacing Assemblywoman Caridad Rodriguez on the ticket headed by State Senator Brian Stack. Not wanting to lose another war with Stack, the party bosses in Jersey City and Bayonne agreed not to challenge his slate. Now Bhalla steps in to throw a wrinkle in the race designed to raise his name recognition among the many political power players who dole out millions in no-bid law contracts around the state.
Bhalla supported Ramos in 2007, has no chance against him in 2011
Bhalla’s shifting political alliances have historically been based on who he is seeking no-bid contracts from at the time. He gave a $250 campaign contribution to the election committee for Ramos and Rodriguez in 2007 – the same year Ramos steamrolled Carol Marsh in the democratic primary for Assembly. Why did Bhalla contribute to Ramos and not Marsh? Because he was trying to get in the good graces of Stack, who later awarded Bhalla a $240,711 contract to provide legal services as a Tenant Advocate in Union City for 2008.
That same year Bhalla made $2350 in contributions to Stack’s Union City First Political Action Committee. These contributions were made in March and June when Marsh and her svengali Michael Lenz were running a campaign against Stack that called him “Corrupt.” Bhalla made similar PAC contributions in the City of Newark ahead of receiving major no-bid contracts which were uncovered by the Citizens Campaign and the Star Ledger. He later lost his Union City contract.
What are his chances to win?
Hudson County political watchers say Bhalla’s lone campaign for Assembly is doomed from day one. Stack, Ramos and Connors have well-established bases of support to draw from throughout the district.
Bhalla has no such base of support, and zero name recognition outside of Hoboken beyond the people he met during his lucrative few years on the Union City payroll. Bhalla’s political marriage with Dawn Zimmer has always been one of convenience. He had money in his campaign fund, and wanted to be on a ticket in 2009. She had a space on the ticket, and wanted the money.
In the early days (make that the only days!) of the Peter Cammarano Administration there was talk that Newark Mayor Cory Booker was working to move Bhalla closer to Cammarano, and that he was seen as “pliable” when the time was “right.” That time never came, but Bhalla is seen as the most likely person to bolt from Team Zimmer should she fail to regain a majority on the City Council in the spring elections, securing her status as a lame duck Mayor. Some say Bhalla’s decision to run for Assembly is confirmation he believes Zimmer will not regain the council majority in May.
The bottom line is Bhalla is for Bhalla, and his decision to run in the primary has more to do with his own interests than with Zimmer’s.
What do you think? Comment below on Bhalla, Ramos, Zimmer, Stack, et al…