31st Legislative District Assembly incumbents Nick Chiaravalloti and Angela McKnight fended off a pair of spirited Democratic challengers yesterday and Hudson County View was there to get their reactions once the results came in.
“No, look, we had supreme confidence and we ran a very positive campaign. [We] were running with a great team, Phil Murphy at the top of the ticker, we were very strong in Bayonne and Jersey City,” Chiaravalloti said during an interview at his victory party at Villa Maria in Bayonne.
“[State Senator] Sandy Cunningham and Angela McKnight did an amazing job in Jersey City. I really owe a great deal of thanks to Mayor [Steven] Fulop and Mayor [Jimmy] Davis. This was really a team effort. Even here in Bayonne, [Freeholder] Kenny Kopacz (D-1) was wonderful going door to door with us.”
Chiaravalloti’s response came after being asked if at any point he felt the typical Hudson County turmoil associated with this election may catch up the Hudson County Democratic Organization-endorsed team.
While the New Jersey Education Association endorsed a split ticket of Chiaravalloti and challenger Kristen Zadroga Hart, with the Jersey City Education Association initially doing the same.
However, the JCEA rescinded their endorsement of Chiaravalloti after a mailer paid for by Better Education 4 NJ Kids, a super PAC tied to charter school advocate David Tepper, sent out a mailer on behalf of the incumbents.
Despite an expensive off-the-line campaign by Hart, who was largely funded by the NJEA, it had little to no impact on this race, as Chiaravalloti and McKnight combined for over 72 percent of the vote 0 according to tallies from the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.
Chiaravalloti also expressed excitement about former U.S. Ambassador Phil Murphy getting one step closer to becoming the next governor, easily winning the Democratic primary, noting that he will likely give a big boost to helping the legislature solve longstanding issues such as funding public schools and pensions.
A few miles away at the Zeppelin Hall Biergarten in Jersey City, McKnight, who dominated the polls with 9,396 machine votes (Chiaravalloti wasn’t too far behind with 8,897), was all smiles and received many words of praise from several Jersey City officials.
“Now I know what beast mode is: beast mode!,” exclaimed Council President Rolando Lavarro. ” … Who says that nice guys finish last? Clearly that’s not the case, Angela McKnight: victory is ours tonight, look at those numbers. They’re astounding.”
“We made a statement tonight: you cannot mess with a team. Because when a team is together, that means everyone achieves a mission,” added Councilwoman-at-Large Joyce Watterman.
Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson added that he knew the “V” in Angela V. McKnight stood for victory, also vowing to put Ward F first with her assistance.
Fulop took the stage next and surprisingly admitted that he was worried about this election, given the amount of money being spent by the NJEA.
“I want to first say thank you because this was an election I was truthfully worried about. I was worried about [it] because a lot of money was spent against us and I didn’t know where we would go in the first election in the Trump era,” said Fulop.
“And today was a statement by Jersey City, by the Jersey City Democratic Organization, that we will stand up for working families. That we will stand up for the environment. That we will stand up for women’s rights. That we will stand up for progressive values.”
Speaking with Hudson County View, McKnight said that she wasn’t worried that she would lose and felt vindicated by sticking with a clean campaign.
“You know what: I stuck with the truth, I stuck with my heart, I stuck with helping people so I didn’t have any worries. I didn’t know that I would win with these big numbers … I knew I was going to win, I just didn’t know with these big numbers,” she said.
Like Chiaravalloti, McKnight thanked all of her supporters, including the HCDO, Fulop and Davis.
While the NJEA took aim at McKnight, who returned fire during a meet and greet last week, for her voting record in Trenton and for sitting on a charter school board, it ultimately had little to no impact on the election.
Hart finished just shy of 16 percent of the vote, earning 4,044 votes overall. Her running mate, Bayonne Board of Education Trustee Christopher Munoz, scored a little under 12 percent of the total vote with 2,965 ballots cast in his favor.
Both losing candidates were classy in defeat, congratulating the incumbents on their win and expressing no regrets for their campaign in two separate Facebook posts.
“I told myself I did not want to have any “what ifs” after the results were tabulated and would work my heart out to achieve the outcome I hoped for. The numbers were not in my favor, but I truly feel that we ran a campaign of which we can be extremely proud,” Hart wrote.
“Thank you to the other candidates, especially Chris Munoz, for agreeing to be a part of the democratic process. Congratulations to Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Angela McKnight for winning the democratic primary.”
Munoz’s post was in a similar vein.
“I would just like to thank all of you: The supporters, campaign workers, teachers, and citizens who believed in me to vote,” he said on Facebook.
“Although the evening was not ours, we remain hopeful. There is a lot of work that’s left to be done. This not the end but only the beginning,” further stating that he personally called Chiaravalloti to concede the race and congratulate him.
The November 7 general election is typically an afterthought in Hudson County legislative races, but despite this fact, Chiaravalloti and McKnight will face off with Republican opposition in the form of perennial candidate Michael Alonso and Lauren Digiaro.