In the midst of a political civil war among local Democrats, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) helped fundraise for Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise last night, exclaiming that the incumbent “restored integrity” to the office.
“When I met Tom DeGise and supported him to be the county executive in 2002, I said to Tom ‘I expect you to restore integrity to the county executive’s office’ and he’s done that every day since 2002,” the senior Senator said at the Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City.
DeGise was elected in a November special election in 2002, 14 months after his predecessor, Bob Janiszewski, resigned due to corruption charges and was eventually sentenced to 41 months in prison.
” … Tom DeGise has proven himself to be a county executive to all the people of Hudson County and that is why I am here with him tonight.”
While it wasn’t a formal announcement, Menendez’s remarks and sheer presence were good news for DeGise, given that he faces an opposing faction – led by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack – looking to replace him next year.
DeGise, who has vowed to prevent Stack from taking the reigns as chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, was more than happy to call out his political rivals yet again in front of a crowd of about 300 people.
“He’s looking for the next step to take: whether it’s governor, an available Senate or congressional seat, and now, he read a book about Frank Hague and he’s trying to become a boss,” DeGise said of Fulop.
“He will talk about his re-election and the numbers he was able to put up: but he didn’t run against me.”
DeGise’s hatred of Fulop has been palpable since the HCDO split nearly two months ago, but he has turned up the heat on Stack in anticipation of the HCDO chair vote on June 12th.
Yesterday evening brought more of the same from DeGise, who was critical of the way Stack operates as a state Senator, expressing that his legislative district sees very few benefits – outside of home base of Union City.
“The largest city that he represents, the largest part of his constituency, is Jersey City. He also got Hoboken, he also got Weehawken,” DeGise said.
“So while Union City gets the new schools, Union City gets the new roads, the swimming pools, the discretionary aid: Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken get nothing.”
Just in case anyone needed any further convincing that DeGise was ready for a political battle, he concluded with the line “so Brian, Steve: let’s get it on.”
Dignitaries in attendance included U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, Assemblyman Pedro Mejia (both D-32), Freeholders Anthony Romano (D-5) Caridad Rodriguez (D-7) and Anthony Vainieri (D-8), Hoboken Council members Ruben Ramos, Mike DeFusco, and Jen Giattino, West New York Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo and Gabriel Rodriguez, Jersey City Board of Education Trustee Amy DeGise, former Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, ex-West New York Mayor Sal Vega, former state Senator Majority leader Bernie Kenny, among many others.