With the help of deep pockets and key endorsements, the Hudson County Democratic Organization prevailed over a bevy of progressive challengers in Tuesday’s primary, winning races for state senate and assembly, as well as the contest for county executive. The HCDO secured the Democratic line in all of the contests for county commissioner seats.
Craig Guy was the first to claim victory, calling his win in the county executive race over progressive Eleanna Little “historic” and a “blowout.”
In heavily Democratic Hudson County, prevailing in the Democratic primary is tantamount to winning the November general election.
The HCDO prevailed in the other contested races as well. Running for the seat of retiring State Senator Sandra Cunningham, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight fought off a challenge from progressive Michael Griffin. In the race for two assembly seats in the 31st Legislative District, Progressive Shanelle Smith was knocked out by the HCDO’s Barbara Stamato and William Sampson.
In races for nine county commissioner seats, the progressive candidates also came up short. TJ Senger was beat by Kenneth Kopacz. Adrian Ghainda lost to William O’Dea. Albert Cifelli prevailed over Alex Valdez.
In two races, progressives made a strong showing. As of Wednesday, Mamta Singh was trailing Yraida Aponte-Lipski by fewer than 200 votes. Ron Bautista was trailing Anthony Romano by 255 votes.
On Friday, however, Bautista officially conceded. “Although we did not win this time, I am deeply proud of the campaign we ran. We knocked on thousands of doors and spoke to thousands of neighbors, all without taking any dark money and without selling out to the political bosses. Instead, we relied on the support and trust of the community that has seen me grow” said Bautista.
Singh, whose race was closer, has yet to concede.
HCDO candidates Jerry Walker and Fanny Cedeno both ran unopposed.
Money and institutional support was clearly a major factor. For instance, Craig Guy had the backing of the governor, both New Jersey U.S. senators, the HCDO, Hudson County’s twelve mayors and virtually every labor union.
Perhaps more importantly, he also vastly outspent Little. According to his May 26th “ELEC” report, his campaign spent $761,488. In addition, as reported by Hudson County View, a super PAC pitched in $136,268, bringing the total spent to elect Guy to $897,756. As of May 26th, Little, in contrast, had spent just $15,108 on her campaign.
Little could take some solace in having done much more with much less, spending $2.11 for every vote compared to Guy’s $32.78.
Guy thanked Little for her “spirited campaign” and said he was looking forward to “working with her to find new solutions to the challenges facing our communities.”
Little, Singh and Bautista had all received endorsements from Ward E Councilman James Solomon. The progressives also got an endorsement from Ward F Councilman Frank Gilmore.
Said the progressives’ campaign managers, Edwards-Thro and Tori Stowell last night, “We are so deeply proud of our extraordinary results against one of the most powerful political machines in the country. Despite being outspent more than 10-to-1, multiple county commissioner races remain too close to call. We will ensure every vote will be counted in the coming hours. Regardless of the ultimate result, we have demonstrated the power of progressive ideas to challenge an increasingly fragile status quo.”
Of 398,190 registered voters county-wide, 42,102 (10.6%) cast ballots.