Stories by Mitchell Krugel and Joshua Sigmund
Photos by John Hulse and Ed Carattini Jr.
A political action-packed Election Day actually accelerated the night before when NJ State PBA President Pat Colligan wondered if the 70 devices reserved for the phone bank at The Forge in Edison would be enough. So around 7 p.m., he called Executive Vice-President, and Election Day Commander, Marc Kovar to see about getting more.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” Kovar told Colligan. By 10 p.m. Kovar had another 40 units.
This was but one piece of overpowering evidence that the PBA answered its call to political action on Election Day 2015 loud and clear and full of impact and influence. From north to south and everywhere in between, the PBA got out the vote and experienced overwhelming success, not the least of which were victories by its endorsed candidates in the tightly-contested 1st, 2nd and 38th Legislative Districts.
“We can all hold our heads a little bit higher,” an exhausted but exhilarated Kovar praised at the end of the 15-hour day. “Last year, half of the legislators didn’t even know who we were. Now, everybody knows who we are.”
Indeed, the indicators that the PBA PAC Attack is in full force abounded on Election Day.
In Egg Harbor Township, the Atlantic County Conference mustered an all-day phone bank to get out the vote that helped 2nd District incumbent and PBA candidate Chris Brown get reelected. At the State PBA Office, Retired Local 600 members packed the conference room to make calls on behalf of Vince Mazzeo and help him retain his 2nd District seat.
At The Forge in Woodbridge, where the PBA set up its central phone bank to support efforts in key districts, all 110 phones were deployed by 10:30 a.m. More than 250 members came from across the state to lend a hand. Some members brought their kids. Woodbridge Local 38 had 92 of its members show up throughout the day. Local 38 State Delegate Bruce Chester and Mercer County Sheriff’s Local 187 State Delegate Pasquale Papero came even though they had surgery the day before. And East Orange Local 16 State Delegate Elaine Settle came down on crutches.
As Democratic Party volunteer and Phone Bank consultant Francisco Maldonado pointed out, “If we end up getting the results we want, it will be in large part due to the men and women in blue.”
In Paramus, the Bergen County Political Action Committee brought more than 150 members to an Election Day rally that hit the streets to get out the vote. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto was one of several elected officials who came to the rally and addresses the members with his vote of confidence.
“We put a big footprint on the process today,” President Colligan observed. “When you have Prieto and other candidates showing up at an event, that’s being on the map.”
Colligan assessed that more than 30 Locals were represented in all of the political action activities. As the day proceeded, Kovar revealed that the Bergen County rally was the lead story at 6 p.m. on the website, PolitickerNJ.com. Just before 11 p.m., Colligan sent out a text that PBA-endorsed candidates swept all their races.
“This was a groundbreaking event, history in the making,” Kovar proclaimed. “It’s a whole new era, and if we keep this up, we can become one of the most powerful groups in the state.”