Primary Primer – Part 1

5/30/2007 Update:

Rumor has it that our Mayor Dave Roberts is dumping the HCDO, ditching his old friend Bernie Kenny. In the process, he is backing Brian Stack, Chris Campos and the rest of the DFHC. Stupid rumors.

A little roundup of what’s going on for the June 5th Primary…

PRIMARY PRIMER PART 1 State Senate and Assembly

With the political fliers still coming fast and furious in the mail, readers have asked “Who are these people? What are they running for? Why should I care?” Here is the Hoboken411 primer on the June 5th primary, starting with Part 1: Statewide Office

crazy hoboken and hudson county politics - Primary Primer - Part 1

Why are only Democrats fighting?

In Hudson County the Republican Party is a fractured minority, and the Democratic Party is the power behind the machine. Because there is so rarely a Democrat vs. Republican battle that means anything here, the Democrats fight among themselves for all the power and patronage. With the Republicans fielding no serious candidates in the November election, the Democratic Primary on June 5th is the fight that matters. The Democrats who win on June 5th are almost certain to win their seats officially in the November election.


HCDO stands for Hudson County Democratic Organization, also known as the “Regular Democratic Party.” It is known for being among the most powerful and corrupt political machines over the course of American history, though the current leadership is claims they are reforming their ranks.

DFHC stands for Democrats for Hudson County, which is made up of people who just a few months ago were very much a part of the HCDO and are using the primary to try to take control of the party. Neither the DFHC nor the HCDO are “reform” organizations. Both call the other “corrupt.”

Now for who’s who and what’s what:

33rd Legislative District

Hoboken is part of the 33rd Legislative District along with Union City, West New York, Weehawken, Guttenberg, and a small portion of Jersey City. Each of the 40 Districts in New Jersey elect ONE State Senator and TWO Members of Assembly. We are currently represented by Senator Bernard Kenny of Hoboken, Assemblyman Brian Stack of Union City, and Assemblyman Sal Vega of West New York. Each was chosen for the job by the HCDO.

State Senate Race – Your Choices

West New York Mayor/Assemblyman Sal Vega is the HCDO choice to succeed Senator Bernard Kenny. Vega was elevated to Mayor and Assemblyman when Albio Sires was elevated to Congress following the appointment of Robert Menendez to the U.S. Senate. Vega was previously a West New York Commissioner (like a Councilperson in Hoboken) and a member of the Hudson County Board of Freeholders (which is similar to a County Legislature or Commission). As the HCDO candidate, Vega is supported by Kenny, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts, Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy, and the rest of the HCDO.

Union City Mayor/Assemblyman Brian Stack is the DFHC candidate to succeed Senator Bernard Kenny. Stack pushed Kenny into retirement by challenging him to a primary battle for the seat. Rather than run for another term, Kenny – who is also the Chairman of the HCDO – stepped aside and supports Vega’s bid. Stack’s top supporters include Congressman Albio Sires, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, and Jersey City Assembly Louis Manzo (who is running against the HCDO candidate for State Senate in the 31st District representing Jersey City and Bayonne). Stack has a strong political machine in Union City, while Vega’s machine is new and largely untested.

State Assembly Races – Pick TWO

The state assembly candidates are picked to run by the candidates for state senate. These are essentially the sideshow to the senate races, sort of like picking a Vice President. Together they form a “ticket” representing an area. The assembly candidates are often chosen on grounds of geographic and ethnic diversity. For instance, the last HCDO ticket was Kenny in Hoboken, along with Mayors Stack of Union City and Sires of West New York. Kenny brought campaign money and gravitas as the head of the State Senate in Trenton while Stack and Sires brought huge patronage voters to the polls as Mayors of the two largest municipalities in the Legislative District. That was an unbeatable combination. The tickets this year are much different.

HCDO Goes All Female for Assembly

West New York Mayo Sal Vega is running with Nicole Garcia of Union City and Carol Marsh of Hoboken (note the geographic diversity). Garcia is the wife of former Union City Mayor and Assemblyman Rudy Garcia, who is an old friend and ally of Former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo. Garcia was pushed out of office in Union City when Bob Menendez aligned with Brian Stack against Garcia. Now, Mr. Garcia is facing charges related to allegations he participated in a gambling ring, and Mrs. Garcia is on the HCDO line for Assembly.

Carol Marsh was a Hoboken community activist picked by David Roberts, Bernie Kenny, and the HCDO to run on Roberts’ 2001 “reform” ticket against then-Mayor Anthony Russo. Kenny, Menendez, and the HCDO were working to wrest control of Hoboken from Russo and Union City from Russo’s ally Garcia. They were successful in part by enticing “reform” candidates to join them in the fight. Inevitably, Roberts, Kenny, and the HCDO turned on Marsh and her supporters soon after Roberts defeated Russo. Some people in Hoboken point to that situation and wonder why Marsh has once again agreed to run with HCDO support, especially after Kenny and the HCDO ran a cutthroat 2005 mayoral campaign that pushed her out of the spotlight for two years. The HCDO is hoping people who supported Marsh for Mayor in 2005 will support Marsh, Garcia, and Vega in 2007. One hitch is the fact the Marsh enjoyed support of many independent and Republican voters in Hoboken who will not switch parties just to vote in this Democratic Primary.

DFHC Takes Ethnic Route

With Stack being a popular Irishman in a largely Hispanic legislative district, he decided to go with two Hispanic candidates for Assembly on his ticket. He covered the Hoboken part of the district with Councilman-at-Large Ruben Ramos, and West New York is represented by Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez. Ramos was chosen as a consistent high vote getter in his hometown, while Rodriguez is a longtime ally and aide to Congressman Albio Sires. Some say the thing that really pushed Senator Kenny into retirement was Ramos’ agreement to run as Assemblyman on Stack’s ticket. Ramos had previously been a protégé and strong supporter of Mayor David Roberts. Stack and Ramos are also supported by Councilman Michael Russo and his family’s election machine, which has pledged to get out the vote for Ramos in Hoboken. Supporters of Ramos and Russo are already active Democratic voters who are likely to vote in the primary.

These tickets are battling for power, and how they do will effect how the candidates for Hudson County Offices do. These include candidates for County Executive, Clerk, and Sheriff. More on who’s who in those races in Part 2 – Hudson County Offices

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Could it be just a coincidence that Ramos got a job with the Paterson schools system at a time when former Hoboken City Councilman Edwin Duroy was superintendent of the Paterson school district and, because of powers granted Duroy by state takeover of the schools, had the first and last word in hirings?



It is actually scary that Ramos is an educator. As someone else noted, Cammarano’s face in that video says all you need to know about this mental lightweight.


[quote comment=”29503″]I’m not sure they have any, but Stack was clearly looking for someone that could turn out the vote in Hoboken. That’s why he narrowed his choice — supposedly — to Ramos and Russo. Say what you want about them, but they get their voters to the polls.[/quote]

And just what about them gets the voters to the polls if the voters are unfamiliar with them?


I’m not sure they have any, but Stack was clearly looking for someone that could turn out the vote in Hoboken. That’s why he narrowed his choice — supposedly — to Ramos and Russo. Say what you want about them, but they get their voters to the polls.


[quote comment=”29473″]You might have read it, but it’s not accurate. Ruben is generally viewed has the stronger of the two politicians. He has a more devoted base and he’s less polarizing. I think the choice came down to Ruben Ramos or Mike Russo, but I could be wrong.[/quote]

What base does Ramos, or Campos for that matter, have outside Hoboken?