One year after the Hudson County Democratic Organization fractured over the county executive seat, incumbent Tom DeGise appears to have the unabashed support of the party heading into the June 4th primary.
At this time last in 2018, it seemed extremely improbable that DeGise, his daughter Amy, state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop would be in a room having a semi-civil discussion, let alone as part of a unity rally.
Yet, low and behold, that’s exactly what happened on Thursday evening as the elder DeGise hosted a unity rally to at the Liberty House Restaurant to bolster his re-election bid.
The county executive since 2002, Stack and Fulop led a charge to oust DeGise in March, though they met an unexpected roadblock in Amy DeGise, who bested Stack in the June vote to succeed former Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto as the new HCDO chair.
“All around Hudson County, we’ve seen the countless things we’ve been able to accomplish, we don’t have to list them all, but what he’s done is taken the other elected officials most important projects, our citizen’s most important projects, our activists, and he’s made them important to him as well,” Amy DeGise said of her father.
“Tom DeGise has done such a great job of getting involved and mentoring young people for decades – making sure that this county is run, and run properly, and run efficiently for many years,” added New Jersey Democratic State Chair John Currie, who said who would campaign with DeGise if asked.
Meanwhile, Stack held the microphone for just 15 seconds to convey his message: that the 33rd Legislative District is aiming to put up big numbers in the primary.
While just about everyone from the expected rank and file of Hudson County Democrats came out to show their support, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) also joined the crowd and showered DeGise with praise.
” … Tom DeGise, with Craig [Guy] right by his side, is unmatched in this state, not just by the politics, getting elected and re-elected, but the governing. He runs this place as well as any place is run in the state,” Murphy said.
“I only wish we could run Trenton as well as he runs Hudson County. He’s an extraordinary talent.”
When it was finally Tom DeGise’s time to the address the 350 or so people on hand, he recalled how humbled he was to have then Congressman Bob Menendez – also the HCDO chair at the time – to ask him to run for county executive 17 years ago.
He explained that it feels like everything has come full circle as he is once again running on the party line, but this time his daughter is the one who made that decision.
“Here I am, one more time, up here, accepting that nomination. Except this time, rather than Congressman Menendez, I have my daughter Amy, she’ll be the one to select me on that,” Tom DeGise stated.
While he is clearly in the driver’s seat, the county executive isn’t running unopposed: Kennith Gonzalez, an 18-year-old Republican, has qualified to be on the ballot as well.
Other dignitaries in attendance included U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, Hudson County Clerk E. Junior Maldonado, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, East Newark Mayor Joe Smith, Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt, Harrison Mayor James Fife, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Kearny Mayor Al Santos, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Assembly members Angela McKnight, Nick Chiaravalloti, Angelica Jimenez and Pedro Mejia, Freeholders Kenny Kopacz, Jerry Walker and Anthony Romano, Jersey City Council members Rolando Lavarro, James Solomon, Danny Rivera, Denise Ridley and Mira Prinz-Arey, Hoboken Council members Mike DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher and Ruben Ramos, among many others.