As the Monmouth County GOP Chair’s race crescendos on its way to a close tomorrow, several Republicans, mostly Bennett supporters, are bemoaning the negative nature the campaign.
Those who think this campaign was negative have limited experience in competitive campaigns. Many, perhaps most, Monmouth County Republicans have limited experience in competitive campaigns. If you want to experience competitive campaigns, spend some time in Bergen County.
John Bennett said he would run a positive campaign. He didn’t and he never intended to. He ran a clever campaign designed to turn his substantial negatives around on his opponent. Attempt to make his negative history out of bounds to talk about because he has a letter saying he didn’t do anything wrong and make his opponent’s government work a “conflict of interest” to deflect attention away from his own piggish career.
That might have worked in the old 12th district against hapless Democrats . It could never work in a competitive race.
John Bennett doesn’t know how to win a competitive race. He’s never won one, unless you consider his 2003 primary against an unknown conservative by the name of Richard Pezzullo a competitive race. Whenever John ventured out of his comfort zone in the old 12th, he lost.
When Bennett was a “Chairman” as Leader of the Senate Republicans in 2003, he lost badly. Before that loss he fought back calls from fellow Republicans in Trenton to give up the Senate Co-Presidency and he fought back Chairman Bill Dowd’s call to step aside in his own race. John knew better than everyone else. Except he didn’t and he caused the loss of not only his own seat in the old 12th, but the Assembly seats too. Worse, and something New Jersey has yet to recover from, he lost the Senate.
It’s not negative to say this. It is just what is so.
What would be negative is to not say it loud enough, like John’s friends didn’t say it loud enough in 2003.
Whoever the next Chairs of the major parties are on Wednesday morning, Monmouth County is going to become a more competitive county. Those who rationalize that this year is a presidential year and next year is a gubernatorial year, so we’ll do well anyway are short term thinkers who don’t know how to build an organization. That’s the kind of thinking that lead to the loss of Republican dominance in Trenton.
The two men who are competing for the Monmouth Democratic Chair both have a great deal of respect for the organization that Joe Oxley and Christine Hanlon have rebuilt over the last four years. Both men are preparing and thinking long term.
Ultimately the job of the county chair is to win elections. The Chair is not a position to give as reward, an act of friendship or because someone’s earned it as a “capstone” to a career. It is not a ceremonial post that someone can coast in for two easy years. Not unless you’re willing to let the competition catch up during those two years