Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said he was sorry Union City Mayor Brian Stack did not win the election to become the Hudson County Democratic chair Tuesday night, because he felt the county would have been in a better position with Stack over winner Amy DeGise.
But, he’s not about to wallow in defeat.
“I think, politically, I’m a realist,” he told ROI-NJ. “You win some and you lose some. You move on.”
Fulop, who said before the election that it would be a referendum on him, said he felt Stack made a strong showing, especially in Jersey City. Most reports said DeGise won, 452-360.
“If you back (in) the Jersey City numbers based on how many people came out (in) total and what we knew we got out of Union City and Hoboken, then the Jersey City numbers are 240-50, being conservative,” he said. “(It’s) just basic math; there’s no way to disagree with that. On a percentage basis, we hit our targets. But, Brian didn’t win. That’s unfortunate. I think it’s a missed opportunity for the county, but it is what it is.
“If you had told us a week ago that Brian would have a total of 390 votes (including Fulop’s estimation of provisional ballots), we would have thought that’s a winning number. If you listened to (County Executive) Tom DeGise’s interview a week ago, he said 350 is what they thought was a winning number. The fact that we lost with 390 votes (shows) we underestimated the turnout of Bayonne and West Hudson.
“That happens. I’m still suspicious on how they got 100 percent turnout in every town, but it is what it is.
“All of their municipalities that they were strong in had 100 percent turnout. You can come to your own conclusion, but the reality is, it’s in the books now. She won. All the documents, I understand, some of them are missing or not available anymore. So, it is what it is.”
Months ago, Stack was expected to replace Vincent Prieto as county chair. But, when Fulop and Stack refused to support Tom DeGise’s bid for a third term as county executive, the fight was on. Amy DeGise, Tom’s daughter, is 32 and a member of the school board in Jersey City.
Fulop responded to the idea that Stack would have won if he and Stack had played politics better.
“This is the overarching question (people) have,” Fulop said. “They say, ‘Why did Brian and you start this fight with Tom DeGise in March. Why not wait until Brian was the chair?’
“The answer is very simple: People were asking for the support for Tom (to be re-elected as county executive) to get unanimous mayor support prior to Brian being the chair. It was implicit in everything that was said. And, when they asked us, ‘Do you want to support Tom DeGise?’ we were tasked with one of two things: We could either lie to him and then Brian would have become the chair and then in August we would have said, ‘Just kidding, we’re going in a different direction.’ Or we could have been up front with him and said, ‘This is what we think.’
“We thought, better to be up front. And that’s as simple as that. And we told him honestly, this is what we think, we think we want to make this change and that started where we are.
“I don’t have regrets on it. The politically expedient thing to do would have been to lie to the guy. That’s what most people would have done. We decided to be honest.”
While the county chair plays an important role in determining which candidates get the most support, Fulop said he did not think the loss would impact his ability to be mayor of Jersey City.
“It doesn’t (impact) the situation here,” he said. “We won in November with 78 percent, with record turnout. We had disproportionate number of county committee come out in favor of Brian. (In) the city, generally speaking, people have a favorable opinion — and overwhelmingly, when you poll it. It doesn’t change anything here.
“Some of it is going to be a function of how does that play into next year and what Brian decides with regard to some of the county politics stuff? Today, it’s probably … going to be different than what he thinks in a month as things settle and he assesses the situation. But, on the countywide politics, what’s it going to do? It’s hard to predict at this point. In Jersey City politics, it’s a non-factor.”
Fulop does not think a potential lack of support from the county Democrats will hurt him, either.
“I never got elected with the help of these people,” he said. “We were always against them. For me, it makes no difference.
“The city is doing great. That’s what’s important. I’m going to continue to work here and do a great job. Would I have preferred for the county political turnout to see Brian be successful? Yeah, I think it would have been the best thing, that’s why I was there supporting him.
“It is what it is.”