Grist for the Mill: The DeFusco Spring Swoon
Enter spring and the tide of the seasons is sweeping out pretenders and wannabe contenders for the Mile Square City mayoral sweepstakes. The November mayoral election contest is off in the distance this fall but it’s the descent of improbable candidacies looming in the spring.
Councilman Mike DeFusco, the ambitious First Ward Councilman is discovering some of these lessons the hard way. Mayor Dawn Zimmer will be bringing in big gun Phil Murphy, former US Ambassador to Germany and likely NJ gubernatorial candidate for her fundraiser next week. The favored Democratic candidate for NJ governor sheds his light of inevitability: on both himself and Mayor Zimmer’s prospects for a third term as mayor. It’s less a campaign stop of mutual admiration than the prelude to the parade of a conquering hero.
Worse for the first term councilman, the April 15th NJ ELEC campaign reports are looming and word is DeFusco’s fundraising efforts through March won’t be bowling over anyone, even a minor mayoral candidate in Karen Nason. The local businesswoman who already announced her bid for Hoboken mayor is none too pleased with some of Team DeFusco’s antics and one reported incident alleging the councilman sent a condescending text message to her during a recent council meeting. The local businesswoman was less than enamored with its contents and angered sufficiently to have it released into the wild.
Nason, who suffers from the lack of name recognition and a platform for her mayoral bid is troubled with the unfortunate close name proximity of she who will not be named but is pushing back from some behind the scenes bullying. Those claims appeared on Grafix Avenger and will do little to help DeFusco’s waning mayoral prospects this year. How does an unannounced candidate for mayor force an announced candidate to get out of his way exactly?
The Old Guard descent into the abyss continues with the generally insider local Democratic committee elections heading toward disaster. Councilman Mike Russo’s effort to rally the troops under another primary line gubernatorial candidate failed at week’s end. The impotence in that failure sends a dire message to the Old Guard and its flailing ranks. A deal to stave off defeat prior to the critical mayoral election isn’t in the making either. Mayor Dawn Zimmer holding Column A with Phil Murphy atop and Freeholder Anthony “Stick” Romano underneath puts the Old Guard Russo faction into borderline irrelevance. Horsey uses the word borderline liberally.
Councilman DeFusco according to one source tried to resurrect the Old Guard’s cratering in the Democratic Committee races and rally the committee around himself. He soon realized it was hard going and after gaining barely a handful of prospective candidates threw in the towel.
Most of DeFusco’s council colleagues have thrown in the towel on him. While he worked feverishly to oust Russo clan godmother Terry Castellano in the first ward in 2015, he did so under the banner of Mayor Zimmer. Recent council outbursts have soured DeFusco’s relationships and none of those colleagues will consider backing him as a mayoral candidate. Councilman Ruben Ramos deemed here the closest to DeFusco would see little reason not to kick the tires and try to beat Zimmer since his bid came up short in 2013 but that’s the short list. No one thinks Councilman Michael Russo is going all-in for DeFusco. Believe it or not, there’s whispers Russo thinks he’s a viable mayoral candidate in 2021. Expect to hear a lot about his FBI surveillance performance and the folly of youth. Who’s buying?
If Team DeFusco doesn’t do something soon; they’re likely to discover the door has been slammed shut long after they thought their candidate viable. Ambition can only get a one year councilman so far and the drain is circling with a g-force sufficient to pull down the Titanic.