Bennett’s Baggage: The Monmouth GOP Chair’s Race, Part 2

Ultimately the job of a county chairman is to win elections.

Unfortunately, one of the candidates for Monmouth County GOP Chair is blinded to the fact that that his record will become a major issue in the next two general elections, should his revisionist history campaign successfully result in his chairmanship.

If John Bennett and his supporters think The Asbury Park Press and the new Monmouth County Democratic Chairman, whoever that ends up being, are not rooting for Bennett to be the next Monmouth GOP Chair, they truly have their heads in the sand.

Bennett has been promoting his early legislative career and electoral successes as a reason to elect him chairman as if the unceremonious and embarrassing end to his legislative career didn’t happen.  He even implored MMM not to write about the damage he has done, not just to Monmouth County, the Monmouth GOP, but to the entire State of New Jersey and the New Jersey GOP.  “Don’t write bad things about me!” Bennett exclaimed when we met for almost three hours early last month.  We hoped he would realize the obvious himself and that we wouldn’t have to write the truth about him.   Unfortunately that has turned out not to be the case. 

Just as he did in 2003 when he ignored then County Chairman Bill Dowd’s call to abandon his unwinnable reelection bid, Bennett has his head in the sand now.  Just as he didn’t see that his continued candidacy in 2003 would not only cost Republicans the 12th legislative district but control of the State Senate where he was Co-President, Bennett doesn’t see now that his being Chairman could very well cost the Monmouth GOP control of the county government which we have worked so hard to win back over the last four years.

In their coverage of Monmouth County government and politics, The Asbury Park Press always telegraphs future coverage and editorial positions.  

The Press did not cover the Freeholder race in January when Serena DiMaso was elected.  They did not cover the recent CD-6 primary between Anna Little and Ernesto Cullari. They’ve hardly covered State Senator Joe Kyrillos’ U.S. Senate bid.  They have already written about the GOP chairman’s race between Bennett and Christine Hanlon.

Those who are angrily and hypocritically invoking the 11th commandment in defense of Bennett’s Soprano State stardom, have their heads in a much darker place than the sand.

MMM is not just predicting that the press will make hay of a Bennett chairmanship.  We spoke with The Soprano State author/Gannett columnist Bob Ingle yesterday. Despite the fact that he is busy promoting his new book, a biography of Governor Chris Christie, Ingle said the Monmouth GOP chair’s race is on his radar.  He was aware that Bennett is running before we called.  He also mentioned that Bennett’s relationship with then U.S. Attorney Chris Christie was in the manuscript of the Christie biography. Ingle wasn’t sure if the mention was in the published edition.  MMM checked, it is not in the index, but at Ingle’s urging, we will read the book from cover to cover to be sure.

Incidentally, Ingle had just finished an interview with G. Gordon Liddy promoting the Christie biography when we got him on the phone.   Maybe Bennett should consider a radio show for his career heyday instead of going down in flames, again, and bringing others with him, again.

Posted: June 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Christine Hanlon, John Bennett, Monmouth County Republican Committee, Monmouth GOP | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

20 Comments on “Bennett’s Baggage: The Monmouth GOP Chair’s Race, Part 2”

  1. Justified Right said at 11:22 am on June 8th, 2012:


    Art Gallagher promotes the idea of letting the AP Press and Vin Gopel pick the next Monmouth County Chair!

    Art – John Bennett lost his seat due to the combined, nefarious efforts of George Norcross and Skip Hidlay.

    If they did so in such a way to make you forget that – then they victimized you even more than John.

    That’s your head in the sand Art if you don’t know what Camden County did to Monmouth County that year.

  2. ArtGallagher said at 11:31 am on June 8th, 2012:

    That’s your head in the sand Art if you don’t know what Camden County did to Monmouth County that year.

    On the contrary, Tommy, Senator Bennett and I talked about George Norcross’s and the APP’s efforts at great length when we met last month.

    Bennett told me himself that he knew he was going to lose his own 2003 race as early as Labor Day. Yet, he defied Dowd’s call to step down and he took Assembly Members Michael Arnone and Clare Farragher with him, making the 12th district a completely Democratic district. It took two election cycles to win back the district.

    We have not won back control of the Senate, which as the Republican Leader in the Senate, Bennett scarificed by spending Leadership money in an ill-fated attempt to keep his own office which he himself admits he knew was unwinnable.

    If Bennett is Chairman, it will happen again.

  3. RepublicanRed said at 11:52 am on June 8th, 2012:

    The Dems and ACORN are having so much fun watching the Republicans devour each other. Please stop this destruction.
    Party unity please!

    In the end, its all about winning elections
    and the boots on the ground.

    Christine has lead the volunteer base for the past several years and will get our Republican Officials elected in November.

    Worked for Christie, if it ain’t broke!

  4. Simply Right said at 12:05 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    Art, thank you so much for having the courage to state the truth. If someone is heavily promoting Bennett, one needs to look a little deeper into their financial relationships. Chances are that they are the recipient of financial gains through ‘rainmaking’ that goes waaayyy back. Of course there are some naive ‘sheep’ who simply can’t believe that someone in their county committee would ever be part of the tangled financial web that has been woven …. but the truth needs to be told. Bennett should simply bow out now, for the good of many who support him.

  5. Justified Right said at 12:17 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    Art so you know about the Camden attack and are choosing to ignore it in your posts?

    I’ll send one over to make it clear.

    @Simply Right: Name names.

  6. Sancho Panza said at 12:56 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    @”Chances are that they are the recipient of financial gains through ‘rainmaking’ that goes waaayyy back.”

    Is that a reference to Bennett’s mentor, Mort Salkind? Has he finished his latest prison sentence yet?

  7. Art Loves Red Herrings said at 1:10 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    Art, more of the same tired allegations about Bennett? C’mon, aren’t there real issues you can dig into? The fact that Hanlon intends to keep all of her county work, and is looking for more and more positions within the state clearly means that county chairman is nothing more than a sideline for her. How much attention will she be able to give to a position that, for her, is just one of many. How many elections will she be able to win if she’s preoccupied? Shill for her all you want, and try to call her decision to retain county work a red herring, but it matters. Bennett’s going to give it up and seems to want to make the position a capstone of his career. Can you say full attention to every election? Bennett was known for reaching across the aisle int he legislature, so he should be able to keep the aprty together and win.

    Also, instead of dredging up the same tired crap about Bennett, why don’t you do some real investigative work? For example, why don’t you look into where all of the anonymous mailing trashing Bennett have been coming from? What if it turns out that the Hanlon campaign is behind it? Or, just to speculate, what if the mailings were printed or mailed by the very vendor she voted to hire? Wouldn’t that be a fascinating story? If you’re going to dig, be an equal opportunity digger and really put some elbow grease into it. Don’t just repeat the same garbage the APP printed years ago.

  8. BillShea said at 1:18 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    The Dems and ACORN are having so much fun watching the Republicans devour each other.

    Then you probably haven’t read about the dirty fight and allegations in the Dems’ Chairman race.

  9. Republican Unity said at 2:02 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    Really, a two-part series recap on a Monmouth County website highlighting and condoning one of the worst politically calculated attacks in our County? You know the facts, shame on you. George Norcross took out one of the County’s most effective legislators in years because John Bennett had the integrity and conviction to disagree with him. Back in 2002, Norcross wanted an arena built in Camden, and Bennett spoke about making Monmouth County a Sports and Entertainment District. Things between Norcross and Bennett got heated, and Norcross demanded that Bennett deliver the votes for the Camden arena. When Bennett refused Norcross vowed to kill him politically. With the use of a Washington D.C. political consulting firm, Kennedy Communications, Bennett’s legal bills for the prior decade were pulled for review on ALL of his municipal clients. Indeed, in a failed attempt to cover the tracks of Kennedy Communications’ involvement, the OPRA requests to Bennett’s clients came from a Chicago resident. And the result of such review — ONE BILLING ERROR —and this one error received more attention in the Asbury Park Press than our Country’s entry into a war. Why is that? Again you know!! In 2003, Skip Hidlay was the Executive Editor and Robert T. Collins is the President and Publisher of the Asbury Park Press. Until 1997 they both held those same jobs at the Courier Post, the largest newspaper in Norcross controlled Camden County. And despite your knowlege of this attack, you rehash it and attempt to give it validity. I wonder, would Hanlon’s firm withstand such scrutiny? We need the integrity and leadership abililties of Bennett to unify this party and stand up to the Camden County political machine and the Asbury Park Press. We can’t allow our County to be controlled by outside agendas.

  10. Justified Right said at 2:22 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    George Norcross’ “useful idiots” inhabiting MMM.

  11. R. Herring said at 4:22 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    So, you’ve been mailing anonymous letters post marked Trenton about Bennet and the Soprano State. You are really bad at maintaining anonymity!
    Got Ya!

  12. TR said at 4:26 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    Ok Bennett was set up by Norcross and destroyed and villified by the press for no good reason. I can actually accept that. Norcross is certainly capable of that. It does not change a thing. Perception is reality in politics. Bennett is a nice guy who got dealt a bad hand years ago. The problem is it is not about Bennett it is about what is best for the party. Do we want a guy who is damaged goods in the eyes of the press and a lot of voters leading the party. Is Bennett doing what is best for the party or best for him. This is not about personalities and it is not about the “capstone of of his long career of public service ” as I believe one poster put it. Nor is it only about the past it is about the future. The muck rakers in the press are going to have everything Bennett does under a microscope. He will be getting a daily colooscopy. One little mistake, one tiny billing error and kablooey. Is that fair to Bennett? Absolutly not. But our concern should be the party not John Bennett. That is why this discussion is not only approriate but must take place.

  13. Republican Unity said at 4:48 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    If it turns out that Hanlon’s team is behind the anonymous mailings, she should immediately withdraw from the race.
    To have sent that trash would be a betrayal to the party and would further indicate she’s only interested in feathering her own nest, not helping the party.

  14. Art Loves Red Herrings said at 5:09 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    To TR:

    Here’s the thing. Hanlon hasn’t been properly vetted. She may have a closet loaded with skeletons. No one seems to be questioning HER bona fides; they’re simply assumed. In contrast, Bennet has endured years of garbage and has passed thru completely clean. Just ask the U.S. Attorney’s office, which took the rare step of issuing him a no target letter, which means there was nothing to any of the allegations leveled against him. Too bad it wasn’t issued in time for him to salvage his election, but the powers that be at the U.S. attorney’s office would know better as to why that didn’t happen.

    If we allow old Asbury Park Press articles to sway our judgment and select a candidate with only five years’ experience, and without proper vetting, then Norcross wins again. It happened to Bennett, it will happen to Hanlon if she doesn’t fall in line. Therefore, not only is Bennett the right choice for the Monmouth Republican Party, but he’s also the perfect messenger to let Norcross, the APP and Art know that their smear campaigns won’t work.

  15. TR said at 5:24 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    @ Art loves red herrings.
    If there were skeletons in Christines closet Bennett would have had them out by now.

    As to the rest of your comment if you actually believe that then Art is right about where your head is.

    @Republican unity what is this mailing everyone is talking about? I have not seen it.

  16. Trilogy said at 5:59 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    When does Part 3 come out and can we look forward to maybe a 4th?
    is 5th pushing it?

  17. Republican Unity said at 6:01 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    An anonymous mailing went out to the majority of CC members with just two pages of the Soprano State.

    As for Bennett vetting Hanlon, he would not publically attack a fellow Republican. His focus has been entirely positive. Norcross and his machine are who we need to be concerned with. We continually leave ourselves vulnerable to the machine if we keep cowtowing to it. No one can really believe that someone who has only marginally been involved in politics since 2007 better serves our Party.

  18. @Republican Unity said at 6:41 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    It ain’t trash if it’s true. It’s the same about Little’s campaign filings. They were fair game. It’s called “vetting & a matter of record.”

    That said, I am not thrilled with the anonymous nature of it and hope Christine had nothing to do with it.

  19. Come on, at least add up said at 9:14 pm on June 8th, 2012:

    ALL her public paychecks, and yes, it is still considered “tacking” she got under that wire, too!..and be clear, you are not getting the full method of how this county job is given.. the Board of Elections job, while app’td. by the Gov., is signed off on by just 4 people: the TWO state committee people, the Chair and the Vice Chair..and,PAID by the county, she’s on the county payroll, it is a fact.. and, got in under the part-time rule for benefits- it is a fact.. add the firm jobs all over, remember Middletown’s a big fish, and that she refuses to give anything up ay all, you have a series of conflicts, and MUCH hypocrisy!

  20. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » Who is Christine Hanlon? The Monmouth County GOP Chair’s Race, Part 4 said at 12:39 am on June 11th, 2012:

    […] “Tell me why John Bennett will be a better Chair than Christine Hanlon,” I asked both Republicans.  Neither had an answer.  Both said they liked Christine and that she would be a good Chairwoman.  They both spoke of their friendship with Bennett and the support he gave them early in their careers as the reason for endorsements.  Neither disagreed with my concerns about Bennett’s baggage.    […]