Jersey City councilman's re-election victory a family affair
By Terrence T. McDonald firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jersey Journal
JERSEY CITY -- If you're looking to beat the political machine, just call the Boggianos.
The three adult children of recently re-elected Councilman Rich Boggiano have helped engineer four election victories for their father, first-ballot and runoff wins this year and in 2013, all against the well-funded political machine of Mayor Steve Fulop.
So how did a speech therapist and two guys who developed an early-education app become master political operatives? Much of the credit, they say, belongs to their dad.
A retired police detective and longtime activist in the Hilltop neighborhood, Boggiano, 74, has spent 40 years building up good will among residents of Ward C, and that has translated into his recent electoral success, his youngest son, Chris, told The Jersey Journal. Boggiano's team had as many as 60 supporters working on get-out-the-vote efforts yesterday, most of them unpaid but "passionate" about getting his dad re-elected, he said.
Voters, Chris said, know his father is "uncorruptable."
"There's no amount of money that can corrupt him," he said. "He wants nothing. He wears my old high school sweaters."
Boggiano won re-election to a second term in yesterday's runoff against Fulop ally John Hanussak. Boggiano won 60 percent of the 2,936 votes cast, to Hanussak's 40 percent. He won about the same votes as he did four years ago, when he unseated Fulop ally Nidia Lopez.
It's not clear how much Fulop's team devoted to Hanussak's campaign specifically, but Boggiano had a massive financial disadvantage. In the days before Election Day, Fulop's council team had $350,000 at its disposal. Boggiano had $30,000.
Even the Fulop machine's efforts to help Hanussak by stockpiling mail-in votes before polls opened yesterday didn't work: Boggiano won mail-ins two-to-one over Hanussak.
Chris said he and his brother, Jon, were the "foot soldiers" on the campaign answering to the "general," their sister, Katrina. The brothers handled "back office" matters, often on plane trips to and from their North Carolina home, while Katrina was the ground game expert, he said.
The councilman, who will begin his second term on Jan. 1, also cited Katrina's assistance when asked to explain yesterday's victory.
"My daughter could run a presidential campaign," he said.
Boggiano is known locally for his often ornery personality. A joke flier hanging in the council office includes his picture and a "warning" to keep away from him because "he is considered loud and dangerous."
"People know he's rough around the edges but he's a genuine person," Chris said.
Gerry McCann, a city code enforcement official and former councilman and mayor, credited Boggiano's lengthy tenure of local activism and a dedication to constituent services that did not stop even as people were voting yesterday.
"In the middle of the election he calls me up about a problem in his ward," he said.
A political operative and ally of Fulop, McCann said he knows of only one way to conquer Boggiano at the polls.
"The way to beat Rich Boggiano is to run someone like Rich Boggiano," he said.
Terrence T. McDonald may be reached at email@example.com
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