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Rising Democrats make names for themselves as urban heroes
An ex-Marine, Steven Fulop jumped into the icy Hudson for a campaign ad and swam from Jersey City to Manhattan, and back
An ex-Marine, Steven Fulop jumped into the icy Hudson for a campaign ad and swam from Jersey City to Manhattan, and backYouTube

When Steven Fulop was running for mayor of Jersey City, N.J., earlier this year, he didn’t just try to persuade voters he’d do a better job of improving schools and reducing crime than the incumbent, Jerramiah Healy. The 36-year-old challenger set out to show he was manlier than his 62-year-old opponent. A campaign ad showed Fulop swimming the icy Hudson River from Jersey City to Manhattan and back, as he narrated his life story: working his way through college, a job at Goldman Sachs, then enlisting in the Marines and a stint in Iraq.

Fulop, a Democrat, easily won the city’s nonpartisan election on May 14 with 53 percent of the vote to Healy’s 38 percent, even though Healy had President Obama’s endorsement. “It was entertaining,” Healy says now of the swimming ad. “I didn’t think it was very effective as far as showing how you’re going to run the city and that you’re qualified, but I guess I was wrong.”

“We’ve done nothing to attract that creative class, the hipsters, the entrepreneurs.” —Steve Fulop
Daniel Shea for Bloomberg Businessweek