The definitive recap of Bergen’s Election 2015

By Matthew Gilson | The Save Jersey Blog

Let’s dive right in, Save Jerseyans…

#1 – District 36 Got Even More Republican Locally

While things were dicey across the county, Republicans once again exceeded expectations in District 36, sweeping all the competitive races.  The surprise of the night came in Wallington where two Republican challengers will join Chris Sinisi and Sharon Robie on the council in January to create the first Republican majority in the town in decades.

In Carlstadt, though not unexpected Councilman Craig Lahullier scored a landslide victory along with his running mates to keep the town in firm Republican hands. Rutherford proved another solid victory for Mayor Joe DeSalvo and his team who now hold a 4-2 advantage on the council.  While expected, it is nonetheless amazing that North Arlington, a town where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1, will now be completely Republican controlled as top vote-getter Brian Fitzhenry and his team clobbered the Democratic incumbents. 

District 36 GOP’ers cleaned-up on a night with not a lot to be excited about elsewhere. They are the model for which the entire county should be running elections.

#2 – John Cosgrove Did More Than Enough to Cement Himself to Take on Bob Gordon

He may not have carried his running mates, but Mayor John Cosgrove was hundreds of votes ahead of his nearest Democratic competitor. I noted earlier that a big victory would set up Cosgrove to take on Gordon in 2017, and he put on a show made even more impressive by the fact that it was a dismal night for many in towns near him. 

Republicans lost in the neighboring District 38 towns including Paramus and Glen Rock. While the lost Republican seats will be our top targets in 2017, Cosgrove gives Republicans a top-flight candidate to take on Gordon. Much like the “Scarpa or bust” chants of this year, the discussion of who should take on Gordon begins and ends with Cosgrove. But speaking of popular mayors in the swing district….

#3 – Popular Candidates Can Still Beat Machines

Nothing put on a smile on my face more than the re-election of Norman Schmelz in Bergenfield. Norman is truly one of the good guys and a dedicated mayor, but he faced an onslaught of dirty attacks by his opponents including a full-blown attack website. Knowing the overwhelming Democratic tilt of the town, Democrats tried to tie Norman to Chris Christie, Scott Garrett, Anthony Cappola and stopped just short of portraying him as a patsy of Nucky Thompson. Through the onslaught, through the excessive spending gap, through the bad night for everyone else, Norman Schmelz still eeked out a victory and proved good guys and popular candidates can still win.

#4 – Anthony Cappola HURT

Anthony Cappola did not run as far behind Mark DiPisa as one might have expected when it was unclear whether he was even actually running. However, his presence was felt everyone in the district. Nowhere was this more clear than New Milford where the Republican candidate trailed by around a dozen votes heading into the recount. While Cappola cannot be blamed for the nuclear meltdown in Oradell, a town which usually draws no Democratic challengers and this year the Democrats got 70%, he certainly impacted close races in New Milford, Glen Rock, Paramus, and perhaps even the council race in Bergenfield. Not good.

#5 – The Countdown to June Has Begun

We noted earlier that Wyckoff could be a proxy war for the coming fight for the BCRO, and sure enough, Susan Yudin lost by around 500 votes to independent Tom Madigan. Despite the local success in District 36, there was a meltdown on the county level and the local level. Republicans lost in towns as safe as Washington Township, Oakland, and Rochelle Park.  The narrative out of the Yudin camp appears to be that Chris Christie brought down the whole ticket, but eventually the buck has to stop at the desk of the chairman.  In 2016, Republicans will defend their three remaining county seats, Sherriff Mike Saudino, and Freeholders Maura DeNicola and John Felice. Right now, expect a slew of candidates from different factions to emerge to take on Yudin in June. This is the developing story to watch and it will be interesting to where the players begin to line up…

#6 –  Here is the mayoral race results breakdown:

Republican takeover:
Woodcliff Lake
Englewood Cliffs
River Edge

Democratic takeover:
Glen Rock

Independent takeover:
Montvale (from Republican)


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