In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton only garnered 31% of the vote in Brick. Then the following year Phil Murphy was only able to convince 38% of residents that he was fit to be governor. Yet Democrat John Ducey has enjoyed strong support among independents and just began his third term as Mayor of Brick. So the question is, should Ducey be supporting a very unpopular Bob Menendez? Especially given that he was indicted on 18 counts of corruption and Bribery?
Historically, the Brick Democrats have strong ties to Bob Menendez. Close Ducey ally, and current School Board President Stepanie Wohlrab served as the campaign Finance Director for Senator Menendez and other top Democrats like Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss.
Recently Ms. Wohlrab was the subject of a Federal probe over activities associated with a political super pac she runs called, “America’s Urban Future.” School Board President Wohlrab was paying herself consulting fees with donations given to the pac, and subsequently awarded contracts to the donor, Fairview Insurance. It should be noted that a similar contract was awared at the municipal level to Fairview Insurance by the Ducey Administration.
Stephanie Wohlrab and the Democratic slate are running for reelection under the banner, “Believe in Brick,” ballot positions 1, 2, and 3. Her running mates are Victoria Pakala and Nicole Siebert. It’s rumored that Ms. Siebert is the niece of Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Speaker Coughlin is one of the chief architects of the controversial School Funding Formula that cut nearly $42 Million in aid to brick schools. Mr. Coughlin’s cuts will be devastating for property taxes in Brick, the impact of which wont be seen until next year.
Given how close the race is between Menendez and Hugin and given how strong the connections are between the Brick Democrats and the North Jersey Democratic Machine; it’s understandable why Mayor Ducey would campaign for Menendez, but is it a smart idea? Only time will tell.