LINDEN — Once considered a shoe-in as the mayoral nominee, Council President Robert Bunk, 77, slipped to third place as underdog challenger John Fine, 48, has emerged in a neck-in-neck race with Councilman Derek Armstead, 46, whose advantage is less than the margin of error.
With just 12 percent of the voters saying they remain undecided, Armstead is pulling 34 over Fine’s 32 and Bunk’s 22 percent of those surveyed, according to a poll conducted this week by Democratic strategist James J. Devine.
Democratic voters are split nearly evenly among the two top choices in the race for mayor after a number of key setbacks for Bunk, who expected to run unopposed for the chance to square off with Mayor Richard Gerbounka in November.
First, Bunk running mate Councilman Gene Davis was caught allegedly offering a bribe to his primary challenger in an effort to get her out of the race. He claimed that the 77-year-old plans to quit on his 80th birthday, so when Bunk resigns Davis would be able to take over.
Then, details emerged about Bunk’s list of 112 city employees who would be laid off under a budget that called for an average $375 tax hike. Meanwhile, as Armstead worked relentlessly to nurture support among voters who have been shut out of the political clubhouse, Fine’s sails caught wind among Democrats turned off by both Bunk’s personal attacks on Armstead, who is the target of a politically-motivated lawsuit filed by a city worker.
Fine, a former police captain, has maintained a low-key style, rejecting the chance to lash out against his opposition. Voters will decide the winner in balloting Tuesday, June 8
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!