Jersey City Mayoral Race Comes Down to Voter Turnout

By David Cruz
NJ Today

For Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop, the long walk to election day started two years ago. Relying on the growing base of newcomers here, Fulop built up an early lead in the race. He said today, he felt his team had left it all out on the field.

“We realize that it’s neck and neck going into this week so nothing really changed based on our polling going into this, so it’s gonna be based on do people come out in areas of the city that historically have not turned out? That’s the million dollar question,” Fulop said.

For incumbent Jerramiah Healy, the race didn’t kick into gear until much later. The mayor, seeking his third term, relied on the power of his incumbency and a wider base of support among old Jersey City and public employees, plus a surprising endorsement from President Obama, which energized the Healy base and closed the gap with Fulop.

“I think it started to change when we fully committed to this thing around Labor Day when we went down to the convention in Charlotte, the Democratic Convention, and we just kept picking up the pace thereafter, and I think in the last three months there’s been a very positive swing in our direction,” Healy said.

Campaign workers were out early today, under sunny skies, but chilly temperatures. After months of campaigning, it was clear that this race was going to be won on election day, in the trenches, or more accurately, the street corners.

Both sides spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to encourage voters to get to the polls. While both sides said they expected to win on the first ballot, from the looks of things late in the afternoon, voter enthusiasm was low.

“I mean it just kind of feels quiet today,” said city council candidate Dan Levin. “I don’t know what your sense is but there was a lot of people out to vote early, which you expect. And then, I guess we’ll really tell at the evening rush, if there’s any.”

In the end, these campaigns will have raised millions of dollars, all for a job that pays just over $100,000 a year but controls hundreds of millions more.

“The hope is that people recognize that they could certainly have an impact on the future of the city and they come out,” Fulop said.

“I think the voters will be happy tonight that this election is behind them and I know that I will be and probably the other three candidates will be, too,” Healy said.