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Legislative District 33

Matthew Kassel | October 24, 2011

In the heart of the Democratic 33rd, can a Republican candidate pick off a Democratic senator who lauds Gov. Christie?

The 33rd is in the heart of Hudson County, so is it necessary to say that it's a Democratic bastion?

Last spring's redrawing of district lines did affect the 33rd, but not its blue bent. The addition of more Jersey City neighborhoods definitely makes up for the loss of Guttenberg and West New York. The 33rd also includes Hoboken, Union City, and Weehawken.

Voter registration data from the June primary shows almost half of all registered voters are Democrats and only 8 percent are Republicans.

Despite the overwhelming odds against his party, Russell Maffei, executive director of the Hudson County Republican Party and chair of the Jersey City Republican Party, is optimistic about the GOP candidates' chances for success.

"The present times are shaky, and this could be a perfect storm," Maffei said, alluding to the economy. "[The Republican candidates] are out there knocking on doors; they're giving speeches when they can to community groups; the party makes phone calls on their behalf. The unthinkable could happen."

Democratic incumbent Sen. Brian Stack, finishing his first term in office, isn't taking his party's voter advantage for granted.

"We take every challenge seriously, and I think Senator Stack has a solid relationship with the community," said Mark Albiez, Stack's chief of staff. "We've been out there nearly all year long, going door to door, identifying voters, and distributing the message.

Stack, who also serves as Mayor of Union City, has another advantage: His alliance with Gov. Chris Christie. He called Christie "the greatest governor ever" at a town hall meeting.

This leaves little traction for his Republican opponent Beth Hamburger, a Hoboken resident who ran unopposed in the primary. She may have trouble differentiating herself from her Democratic rival.

Albiez said the main issues in Stack's campaign are "local quality of life improvements, securing funding, giving back to the district, and constituent services."

In the Assembly, due to redistricting, there's only one incumbent on the ballot—Ruben J. Ramos, Jr., a teacher in Paterson who has been in the Assembly since 2008.

Ramos is running with Sean Connors, a Jersey City police detective who also sits on the city's school board. Both Democrats have received endorsements from the NJ AFL-CIO and New Jersey Education Association.

Opposing them are Republicans Christopher Garcia and Fernando Uribe. Uribe, a life-long resident of Hudson County, lives in Union City and was chairman of the Hudson County Young Republicans from 2005 to 2010. Garcia also lives in Union City.

"They're running generally on the tax issue, bringing down the cost of living and doing business in the state," Maffei said of the Republican candidates.

Maffei added that the other main issues in the 33rd are the same as in just about every other district in the state: "What people are talking about is the economy, jobs, the economy, jobs, the economy, jobs."

Matthew Kassel is a freelance writer focusing mainly on politics and culture. He is an editorial assistant at Community News Service, a local newspaper group in Mercer County.

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