Analyzing the Battlefield Heading Into Tuesday’s LD40 Convention

Tonight, the short-sprint campaign to fill Scott Rumana’s vacant seat ends.

Three contenders square off tonight: Former Passaic County Freeholder Mike Marotta (who has the organizational support LINK), Bergen County Freeholder Maura DeNicola (who has plenty of local endorsements) and Wyckoff Mayor Kevin Rooney (who has the endorsement of Senator O’Toole).

Who is going to win? Getting to an answer is even more complicated than usual.

The battle lines were drawn early between Marotta and Rooney and the contest has been downright vicious.

DeNicola (L), Rooney (C), and Marotta (R)

Mayor Rooney accused Marotta of supporting Democrats, specifically Assemblyman Gary Shaer (D) through a PAC in which he is involved; Rooney, in turn, is supported by Peter Murphy, the controversial Republican power broker who was recently shut out by the Bergen, Passiac and Morris GOP chairmen for attending a fundraiser for presumptive 2017 GOP nominee Phil Murphy.

The two-way battle looked to be smooth sailing for Marotta but DeNicola has significantly complicated the race.  Like many party conventions, a simple plurality will not carry the day; it takes 50%+1 and, right now, there is near universal agreement that no one is likely to get to 50%.

Could DeNicola upset the apple cart? And if so, what then?

The most likely candidate to be left out?

Some party insiders believe Rooney’s ties to Yudin and Murphy could turn off loyalists to the current chairmen and leave the Bergen mayor on the outside.  “I would be surprised to see him get 20%” remarked one Committeewoman in the district who asked not to be named.

Who wins in a battle between DeNicola and Marotta? Rooney’s Passaic support would benefit Marotta, while his local supporters are more likely to break for DeNicola. It could be close.

The only thing that looks like a sure bet: we’re likely to need a second round of voting.