PATERSON, NJ – Steve Rothman made a major investment in Paterson in his effort to beat Bill Pascrell, the city’s hometown candidate, in Tuesday’s Democratic congressional primary.
Rothman’s preliminary federal election finance reports show he spent more money on door-to-door campaigners in Paterson than in any other town in the 9th District. He especially courted the city’s Dominican voters by putting members of that community on his payroll. Moreover, Rothman won the endorsement of Mayor Jeffery Jones.
But the investment didn’t pay off for the Bergen County Democrat. In fact, some city political leaders say Rothman’s strategy may have backfired by antagonizing and energizing Pascrell’s supporters.
The numbers speak for themselves. Pascrell outpolled Rothman by almost an 18-1 margin in Paterson, according to unofficial totals that do not include absentee and provisional ballots.
The Election Day totals show Pascrell with 12,912 Paterson votes, compared to just 733 for Rothman. The rest of the district’s Passaic County towns – Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Passaic, and Prospect Park - backed Pascrell 11,303 to 1,859, close to a 6-1 margin.
For the whole 6th District, which also includes all of parts of 27 Bergen County towns and the Hudson County communities of Secaucus and Kearny, Pascrell had 30,218 votes, while Rothman had 19,078. None of these figures includes the absentee or provisional ballots.
Here are the numbers by ward:
1st Ward: Pascrell 2,473-106
2nd Ward: Pascrell 2,152-97
3rd Ward: Pascrell 2,813-197
4th Ward: Pascrell 1,923-85
5th Ward: Pascrell 1,448-155
6th Ward: Pascrell 2,103-93
Not one of the 68 districts in those wards was competitive.
The election returns show that Rothman reaped little benefit from his endorsements from Paterson’s Dominican leaders, including three who had run for city council on May 8.
In the 1st Ward in May, Pedro Rodriguez rang up 1,035 votes and lost by a couple percentage points. In the 3rd Ward, Alex Mendez in May had 1,373 votes and lost by about four percentage points. In the 5th Ward in May, Julio Tavarez had 910 votes and won by 20 percentage points.
If Rothman had been able to replicate the margins of his Dominican backers, that would have represented a shift of about 3,500 votes. That still would not have been enough for Rothman to win, but it would have closed the gap to about 4,000. Then, Pascrell’s campaign might have broken a sweat on election night.