In what is shaping up to be a crowded, contentious election, Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco led the way in terms of 2nd quarter fundraising by bringing in just over $115,000, according to reports filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
DeFusco’s six-figure totals came from three separate filings: Mike DeFusco for Hoboken Mayor, Team DeFusco for Hoboken and Michael Flett for Hoboken City Council – one of his running mates.
Those accounts raised about $70,366, $24,900 and $20,000, respectively, between April 1st and June 30th. That brings his overall total raised to $205,426, with $178,946 cash on hand.
“I am truly humbled by the support our campaign has received to bring new leadership to Hoboken,” DeFusco said in a statement last week. “Our fundraising efforts show there is an appetite for new energy and new ideas to move our city forward.”
The upstart councilman, an ally turned enemy of Mayor Dawn Zimmer (who isn’t seeking re-election), saw a ton of union support including Sprinkler Fitters Local 696, Pipefitter Local Political Action Committee, Local Union 164 IBEW and LA Pipefitters 274.
The first three aforementioned unions donated $600 each, while LA Pipefitters 274 donated $5,000, according to his July 17th ELEC filing.
Flett was also instrumental in the strong fundraising quarter, writing a $20,000 loan to his council campaign on June 28th, while and he and his wife both wrote a $2,600 check to DeFusco’s mayoral campaign on the following day.
Also worth noting is a $2,000 contribution from Frank “Pupie” Raia, a former chair of the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, as well as ex-board of education trustee. His donation was not dated.
The second highest fundraising tally came from DeFusco’s council colleague Ravi Bhalla, who raised $23,383 in the second quarter, bringing his overall total to about $151,859. He also now has $84,380 on hand.
A good amount of his donations came from members of the Sikh community as close as Franklin Lakes or Paramus and as far away as California.
Bhalla, who has the support of Zimmer in this race, had well under a quarter to fundraise for this filing, given that the incumbent announced she wouldn’t seek re-election on June 20th.
The veteran councilman was originally going to seek re-election on Zimmer’s ticket.
Detractors of Bhalla also pointed out that his 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter reports for 2016 weren’t filed until April of this year.
Additionally, Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5) and Council President Jen Giattino, who are widely considered the two other top-tier candidates in the race, did not file reports with ELEC for the most recent quarter.
Their respective campaigns both told Hudson County View they did not file because of the initial election fund report rules established by ELEC.
“If the committee is established within five months or less of the due date of the 29-day pre-election report for the election in which the candidates or joint candidates are running,
the committee will file a 29-day pre-election report as the initial election fund report,” according to ELEC’s compliance rules.
Giattino’s most recent filing is from May 16th, 2017, before she announced she was running for mayor. She reported just $263.91 on hand at that time.
Meanwhile, Romano, who easily won the Democratic primary for freeholder on June 6th, filed a post-election report on June 9th where he filed having a balance of $-3,408.
Romano told Hudson County View at his mayoral campaign kickoff last month that he and his campaign staff will decide in the coming months what he’ll do about potentially being on the ballot twice on November 7th.
Pat Waiters, a perennial candidate for office in Hoboken who is mulling a mayoral run and a longtime antagonist of Romano, filed an ELEC complaint against him based around his lack of campaign filings.
“Concerns exist that funds are being co-mingled from the Freeholder and Mayoral accounts, but there is no way to tell because he is not filing either report,” she wrote in the complaint, which was submitted on Thursday.
“The same campaign office and staff are being used for the mayoral campaign that were used for his Freeholder campaign, so it appears to be a conflict.”
Waiters lost to Romano by a 4-to-1 margin in the freeholder primary, but has continued to be a thorn in his side by attending Board of Chosen Freeholders meetings and speaking out against him.
Furthermore, local activist Ronald Bautista has $1,272 cash on hand according to his July 17th ELEC filing, but the only donation he reported in the 2nd quarter was a $200 donation from himself on April 30th.
Finally, Karen Nason, the first declared candidate in the field, raised $7,895 in the second quarter of 2017, with about $4,147 on hand, according to a July 14th ELEC filing.
The Hoboken municipal election is on November 7th, where the mayor’s seat and all three council-at-large positions will be up for grabs.