I have to note the passing of John T. Gregorio, former mayor of Linden. N.J. and a one-time Democratic power broker in the state as a State Senator, at 87.
He rose to power in the 1970's and early 1980's before being driven from office in 1983 after a conviction involving hidden interests in a local go-go bar. But he made a comeback in 1990 when he was pardoned by former GOP Gov. Tom Kean on Kean's last day in office. At the time, Kean told me he was asked by incoming Gov. Jim Florio, a Democrat, to grant the pardon. Florio's office told me at the time that was untrue.
Later, State Sen. Ray Lesniak, another Democrat, stated he had approached Kean on Gregorio's behalf and requested the pardon.
During that 1990 election, I wrote a lot about Gregorio for The Daily Journal of Elizabeth, N.J., including claims he had threatened a fireman's union boss and gotten into a shouting match with another driver after an accident. When Gregorio won the primary handily, effectively winning the election in mostly-Democratic Linden, I went to his victory party to interview him and was almost assaulted by his son, John Gregorio, Jr.
That same son was later arrested for kidnapping two teen boys who he alleged were harassing his daughter and driving them around Staten Island. His father at the time defended the son.
Years later, in 2008, Gregorio agreed to sit down with me for a story that ran in New Jersey Monthly, still defending his son. He lost his last election for mayor that same year.
Loved or hated, he was a New Jersey character.