Frank "Pupie" Raia is consolidating forces for a big run for the mayor's chair next spring.
Some decades ago, of the old tales revolving around Hoboken is one about a boy and his friend playing on its asphalt hardtop back in the day during the lean, hard times. The friend's mom reportedly said of her boy's pal, "One day you will be mayor of Hoboken."
The dream has lived ever since and been repeated and ingrained as often as the story. In November 2009, Hoboken developer and philanthropist Frank "Pupie" Raia ran a strong, positive campaign but the results were a distant finish to Mayor Dawn Zimmer in a crowded field.
Raia dueled it out with Councilwoman Beth Mason for second place and now is enlisting her or rather an unknown but sizable amount of her family's money toward a Pupie for Mayor campaign next spring. The City Council passed an anti-wheeling ordinance barely moments after Mason was bounced as Chair - one she fought viciously and declared unconstitutional along with Tim Occhipinti but people expect she'll find a way to route the money where it needs to go.
Accordingly, independent sources say a Raia campaign is predicting a bankroll in the seven figure range!
Raia self-funded his 2009 campaign to the tune of 200K but is now reportedly whispering to allies about more than doubling it in a bid to wrench the mayor's chair from a popular, professional and honest mayor who has lived up to her promises cutting taxes, reducing spending significantly and saving the hospital along the way.
In addition, fueling the Raia campaign greenbacks is a vote-by-mail plan dallied about well into four digits. (Apparently no paper ballots will be leftover for a mayoral bid by Tim Occhipinti which is a travesty and a Cryan shame.)
Al Sullivan said in the weekend paper there's concern the Old Guard needs to rally behind one candidate and "money people" may not step up to the plate if it fails to materialize. But Raia doesn't need their money, especially if the Wheeling Queen of Transparency is on board for six figures several times over as is suggested.
Sullivan also notes concern about combining a solidified Old Hoboken vote and Hoboken professionals, the latter being spliced off in the form of low information voters or others who were easily fooled by the Cammarano sell. Can Raia pull votes from both camps? That's the $1,000,000 question.
In these challenging times, development hasn't been booming in Hoboken but the reasons aren't entirely economic. From new honest leadership in the Hoboken Construction Office to the Zoning Board to the Mayor's Office, the developments on tap aren't green-lighted rapid fire like they used to be.
Among those who are not pleased with this red tape is rumored to be one Frank Raia joining a longer list that includes the Rockefeller Group (who commissioned the recent telephone poll), URSA Taragon and of course NJ Transit.
In short, while Mayor Zimmer hasn't been an obstacle to all development, from the developer perspective she's bad for business. Very bad, as in get her the heck out of there bad so we can make money hand over fist again. They see lovely 40 story towers in Hoboken's future.
The talk of spending seven figures or more has to be taken seriously. The mayor's grass roots support is going to be tested in facing an onslaught of this kind of money focused behind one candidate.
There's also talk of gambling money moving in from down the road at the Meadowlands. If gaming is coming that close you can be sure it will also find a way to the sponsor in the form of Assemblyman Ruben Ramos. Ramos has been first out of the gate to begin searching for a winning hand to the mayor's seat and he's not going anywhere. If Meadowlands gambling starts gaining traction, so will Ramos. He'd like to have the Russo's on board but they are said to be behind Raia, at least for now.
The Russo clan sees the best outcome as one of their own on the wheel (and the money). Not very likely to happen as Councilwoman Terry Castellano who has mulled over the idea isn't likely to do so and Councilman Michael Russo is tarnished with an FBI surveillance tape showing everyone what he is.
Frank Raia is consolidating the Old Guard for a big mayoral campaign effort. He has the Mason Treasury on board. He brings a big money roll to the battle too.
|Beth Mason - she's out but the family money is in and it's on Frank Raia.|
Talking Ed Note: After the summer when the air clears or the rubble settles or begins to settle, the consolidation will be clearer. Frank "Pupie" Raia is in an advanced stage of mobilization and this is his last and best shot to take aim for the lifetime prize.
Grafix Avenger has returned from vacation and mulls over the House of Cards that is the Mason Civic League and Mason Family Civic League, its innumerable employment of political operatives and details why it is a problem not going away. Let the IRS decide!
Original Frank Raia photo courtesy Jhnny Newman