While the final results really weren’t all that close in the District 31 Assembly race, Republican Matthew Kopko showed more offensive output against Nick Chiaravalloti, Angela McKnight and their Hudson County Democratic Organization cohorts in six months than the local GOP has in likely more than six years.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Everyone who saw Kopko field questions at either Assembly debate prior to the June 2 primary election knew that he had a chip on his shoulder and was willing to take a firm stance on controversial issues such as legalizing marijuana and calling for a state audit to help reduce property taxes.
Kopko then showed in June that he had no interest in letting the HCDO walk all over him when he went after party chair/Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) after seeing the celebration for Chiaravalloti and running mate Angela McKnight cruising to victory in the primary.
Although Kopko appeared to be in a perennial handicapped match since his running mate Herminio Mendoza left all the heavy lifting up to him, he pushed forward with Rocky Balboa-like determination and disregard for punishment – for better and for worse.
He showed a willingness to engage with both McKnight and Chiaravalloti, exclaiming McKnight “has no idea what she’s doing” and that she didn’t even write her own letter to the editor, to throwing a bomb of an accusation by saying Chiaravalloti was practicing law without a license.
On top of that, who can forget when Kopko accused Eugene McKnight, a notorious political mastermind in Jersey City’s Ward F – who also happens to be related to Angela through marriage – allegedly threatened Kopko at a community event in August.
While Kopko was intent on playing some sort of real life version of “Super Punchout!!!” with the HCDO, at one point going after ex-Gov. Jim McGreevey and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop over the prisoner re-entry center debacle, he was mostly ignored and treated as some sort of annoying housefly that wouldn’t go away.
However, the Chiaravalloti camp couldn’t resist calling Kopko “Mr. New York City” over his car’s license plate.
That little mix up was small potatoes before things hit a crescendo on election eve, where both parties made some bold accusations relating to a flier portraying Kopko as a member of the Klu Klux Klan.
Of course, neither side admitted they had any involvement, and the McKnight camp was insistent they had run a clean campaign and would never stoop to such a low – also making sure to note that Kopko stormed their campaign headquarters like a particularly angry version of The Incredible Hulk.
To reiterate, Kopko (and Mendoza) took a pretty severe beating on Election Day, garnering very little support in Jersey City, though remained in striking distance with Chiaravalloti in Bayonne.
He’ll undoubtedly be back as a candidate, with many supporters already encouraging him to run for a Bayonne council seat in 2018.