The Monmouth Democratic Chairman’s Race

The balloting won’t be until mid-June 2012, but the candidates vying to replace Victor Scudiery as Monmouth County Democratic Chairman are running as if the race will be decided on January 14.

Marlboro Councilman Frank LaRocca and businessman Vin Gopal, an Assembly candidate from the 11th legislative district last month, are building their alliances and working the phones.   LaRocca is the law partner of Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornick.  Gopal, a business partner of Scudiery.  Hornick, considered a Democratic rising star statewide, is all in for his political and business partner as they seek to build an organization to propel the young mayor into higher office.  Scudiery is officially neutral.

During Scudiery’s two decade tenure as chairman he has fought against the state Democratic organization bringing “outsiders” in to fill appointments in the county.  Perhaps the most notable example is the Monmouth Prosecutor’s job in 2005.  Acting Governor Richard Codey nominated Essex County resident Luis Valentin to succeed Republican John Kaye who had held the job for 21 years.   Scudiery objected, wanting the job to go to Monmouth resident Allan Falk.  Scudiery asked State Senator Joe Palaia, a Republican, to block Valentin’s appointment via senatorial courtesy. Palaia stayed out of the Democratic family feud, but Trenton Democrats responded by sending U.S. Senator/gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine and Congressman Frank Pallone to Airport Plaza to demand that Scudiery step down as chairman.  He didn’t.

LaRocca and Hornick, “LaHornicca,” are seen to be allied with the Trenton Democratic establishment.  They have strong ties to State Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski.  Democratic legal powerhouse, DeCotiis, FitzPatrick and Cole, of Teaneck, are the Marlboro borough attorneys.

Gopal, despite having a statewide network of his own, including a close alliance with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, is seen to represent local interests. During his Assembly campaign he expressed a commitment to building a homegrown Democratic organization.

Alliances in the chairman’s race are breaking along similar lines.   Middletown Democratic Chair Joe Caliendo is backing Gopal.  Caliendo and Howell Democratic Chair Steve Morlino often align their forces, creating an insurmountable voting block.  If that alliance stands, Gopal will likely win.

“LaHornicca” has the support of former Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna, who challenged Scudiery in 2000.  McKenna’s law partner, Michael DuPont is also in the “LaHornicca” camp.  DuPont is the treasurer of the New Jersey Turnpike AuthorityDeCotiis is the law firm for the Turnpike Authority.

However, the Red Bank Democrats are split.  Ed Zipprich, the municipal chairman and a councilman supports Gopal.

Democratic campaign and media consultants Pat Politano, of Union County, and Jon Evans of Morris County, famous in Monmouth County for running Brian Unger’s Long Branch mayoral campaign in 2010, are supporting “LaHornicca.”   Politano is closely aligned with former State Democratic Chairman Joe Cryan, a Union County Assemblyman and Undersheriff, and with Cryan’s running mate, Senator Ray Lesniak.

As hard as Gopal and “LaHornicca” are working on building their alliances with current municipal chairs and committee members, most of the voters may not yet be identified.  The entire county committee, of both parties, is up for election in the June 5, 2012 primary.  The current Monmouth County Democratic Committee has over 400 vacancies.   The team that gets candidates to run for those empty seats could control the Monmouth Democratic Organization through June of 2014.

Posted: December 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth Democrats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

15 Comments on “The Monmouth Democratic Chairman’s Race”

  1. Barry said at 12:35 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    Not to nit pick about the prosecutor selection but in 2006 Corzine was Governor or Governor elect all of 2006.

  2. ArtGallagher said at 12:40 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    Good catch Barry. Thanks. I made the correction.

  3. Asbury (neptune, etc) residents said at 1:38 pm on December 10th, 2011:


    With Hornik making the statement below, LaHornicca might do more harm then good and hurt the minority vote in other Counties and Monmouth.

    “The radical housing groups and the developers will not be happy until Marlboro looks like Jersey City and Newark, and it’s not going to happen.”

    What did he mean by that? Isn’t LaHornicca putting up rental apartments in Marlboro with the builder not required to pay taxes?

  4. TR said at 2:12 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    Rumors are something is up on the Republican side also?????????????

  5. ArtGallagher said at 4:34 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    All in good time, TR. We don’t want to kill a story by breaking it. That rumor is still very much up in the air.

  6. Dopy Republican said at 5:13 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    If you really knew what you were talking about this would be an interesting story. Unfortunately your uninformed speculation is just that, uninformed.

    First off Scudiery hasn’t made an official announcement that he is not seeking the Chairmanship again in Monmouth County so speculation is premature. LaRocca and Hornick started this rumor just after the elections were over on Nov.8th.

    After being confronted with the rumors floated by those in Marlboro, Gopal did send out feelers of his own but to say that he has the support of Caliendo in Middletown and Morlino in Howell is untrue.

    As for “LaHornicca” they don’t have a chance at gaining the Chairmanship for one very simple reason, they haven’t done anything over the past several years to help Democrats in Monmouth County. They run and hide when State and County candidates come knocking on their door for help. Marlboro is their kingdom and they want nothing from outside of town to disrupt their gravy train.

    If Scudiery does step down as Chairman, which could happen and just may be likely, look for someone else to step forward other than Gopal and LaRocca. I hear that Pallone has someone waiting in the wings other than these two.

    Maybe Dan Jacobson can find that out for you.

  7. ArtGallagher said at 5:46 pm on December 10th, 2011:


    Your November 3 post revealed that you are not nearly as well informed as you think you are. This one confirmed it.

  8. TR said at 6:42 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    Art, your just lucky I don’t have anyplace else t0 peddle my info.

  9. ArtGallagher said at 10:17 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    No TR, I’m just lucky that you peddle it here.

    Sit tight.

  10. Rick Ambrosia said at 5:11 pm on December 11th, 2011:

    The municipal chair for Colts Neck is on the Vin bandwagon.

  11. Anthony Mazzolina said at 7:59 am on December 12th, 2011:

    Morlino? Is that they guy that just lost for the 4th time in an election? With support like that he’s better off asking for Charles Manson to endorse him.

  12. Joe C said at 6:39 pm on December 12th, 2011:

    What about Norm Kauff for County Chair?

  13. Randy said at 1:45 am on December 13th, 2011:

    ya kidding me, kauff is over 70 years old, plus Gopal is Kauff’s prodigy. He is everywhere with Gopal. I am sure gopal went to Kauff before he decided to run

  14. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » Senatorial Courtesy said at 11:24 am on December 16th, 2011:

    […] I can recall it the tradition being discussed publicly regarding a Monmouth County nominee was when Democratic County Chairman Victor Scudiery asked then Republican Senator Joe Palaia to block Luis Valentin’s appointment as prosecutor […]

  15. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » The New Congressional Map said at 1:04 pm on December 23rd, 2011:

    […] hold. Marlboro usually votes Republican except on the municipal level where they have voted in the “LaHornicca” Democrats. Posted: December 23rd, 2011 | Author: ArtGallagher | Filed under: Reapportionment, Redistricting | […]