In Bergen County, conservative Steve Lonegan has a full slate of county candidates running against the dregs of the BCRO and its hapless leadership, led by Paulie "the hand" DiGaetano. There is a weirdness within the Bergen County political establishment -- Democrats and Republicans -- in that they derive great pleasure by mimicking the folkways of a traditional Mediterranean criminal elite. We don't get it, but it seems to turn them on.
Over in Essex County, Assemblyman Jay Webber has his own slate of county candidates. Webber, who has taken the phrase "Reagan Republican" and made it his own, was expected to link up with Lonegan in Passaic County -- where they both faced the county machine. Whether this "machine" is the remnants of the once powerful organization that totally dominated Passaic County or the reconstituted second coming of the same remains to be seen, but it is still formidable nonetheless. And so it made all the sense in the world for the two conservatives to link up in common cause.
But in the rush towards the April 2nd filing deadline, they failed to agree on ballot slogan and Webber raised objections to some of those candidates recruited by Lonegan. "It became the Jay show," said one conservative activist.
Webber bracketed his campaign with that of Brian Goldberg, a candidate for U.S. Senate. Goldberg is running as a fiscal and social conservative this year -- a curious conversion from the social liberalism he displayed when he ran for the same office in 2014. Lonegan was left with the conservative insurgents running for county clerk and freeholder. Essentially, Webber split the movement and cut the conservative insurgents off his ticket.
The only way the county-level conservative insurgency was going to have a chance at winning was to be led by well-financed conservative congressional candidates in districts 5 and 11. They have Lonegan in District 5 -- but that is just two towns (Ringwood and West Milford). Webber booted them from his ticket in District 11 -- that's eight towns (Bloomingdale, Little Falls, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne, and Woodland Park).
To give our readers an idea of what this did, here are two sample ballots, one from a Ringwood, in District 5, and the other from Wayne, in District 11...
Now imagine how strong the conservative ticket would have been if it had stretched from U.S. Senate down through Freeholder in ten of the county's sixteen towns? Instead, those conservatives running on the county level found themselves cut-off Jay Webber's ticket, all but assuring their defeat in the June primary.
Was this an act of treachery on the part of Webber? Does he have a deal with the party bosses in Passaic County? Why assure the defeat of the conservative insurgents and the ensure the hegemony of the machine?
There are many questions here but sadly only one certainty: A great opportunity was missed to build a conservative infrastructure in the Passaic GOP.