Bayonne usually has a problem getting on the map of Hudson County political scuffles, it happens when you live in Jersey City’s shadow, but the mayoral scrap between then-Mayor Mark Smith and then-police captain Jimmy Davis was a hard-hitting affair by anyone’s standards.
Smith initially played nice, targeting the fact that Davis had moved from Bayonne to Rahway for several years, before bringing out the heavy guns: pointing out that Davis friend and campaign worker Pat Desmond had been hit with multiple cocaine possession charges and got caught stealing thousands of dollars from a church.
Davis wasn’t about to be a punching bag, noting that Smith never made good on his promises to redevelop Broadway and the Military Ocean Terminal (MOT).
Davis also gained the support of the Bayonne Teachers’ union – who were working without a contract for 5 years – and pushed for a voter referendum changing the board of education from appointed to elected, which passed with overwhelming support.
When the smoke settled, Davis pushed Smith to the brink on the May 13 election – losing by the slimmest of margins: 48.65 percent of the vote to 47.33 percent of the vote.
This pushed a runoff election on June 10, which Davis won handily, despite getting outspent by a roughly 10-to-1 margin.
Here is a Hudson County View clip of when U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) swore in Davis on July 1: