Who is Christine Hanlon? The Monmouth County GOP Chair’s Race, Part 4

By Art Gallagher

Who is this woman who, only six years ago was not involved in politics and now has State Legislators and county elected officials feverishly working the phones to make sure she is elected Monmouth County GOP Chair on Tuesday evening at Colts Neck High School?

Late last week as I was finishing up my preparation for this series, I called two of the elected officials who had endorsed John Bennett for Chair.   I trust these people’s judgment and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

“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.   

One of them called me back over the weekend and asked, “Why do you think Christine will be a better Chair than John?”  “Bennett is too much of a risk.  Fair or not, he will become a campaign issue and a distraction.   No one works harder than Christine and she’s motivated by something other than personal gain,”  was my reply.  “How can you say that about someone who has only been involved for a few years?” the person quickly asked.  “Because I’ve taken the time to get to know her, just like I took the time  to get to know you when you were running.”  “Oh, I was just asking.”  “That’s OK, I was just answering.”

While Christine first got involved in Monmouth County Republican politics as a volunteer for then Senator Sean Kean and Assembly candidates Dave Rible and Mary Pat Angelini, the former 11th District Shore Team, in their 2007 campaign, I never had a more than a “Hi, nice to see you” conversation with her until Sheriff Kim Guadagno’s 2009 Super Bowl Brunch.  The buzz around that event was that all of the gubernatorial contenders, Chris Christie, Steve Lonegan and Rick Merkt were speaking.  But the strong undercurrent was who would be running against Democratic Freeholder Director Baraba McMarrow in November to win back control of the Freeholder Board.   McMarrow was considered very difficult to beat and many Republicans thought we needed a woman to challenge her.  Christine’s name had been floated.   I asked Christine if she was interested.  She said she was loyal to another candiate who’s name was also floating.  Eventually McMarrow decided not to run,  John Curley was nominated and elected and later McMarrow became a Republican member of the Freehold Township Committee.

During the summer of 2009, Hanlon was a relentless pain in the ass.  She was the Monmouth County Coordinator for the Christie for Governor campaign.  Daily emails looking for volunteers for phone banks.  Phone calls looking for a Highlands Coordinator.  “I’ll deliver Highlands, leave me alone,” I was tempted to say many times.  That would have been an empty promise to take credit for.  Highlands’s Democrats had no passion for Corzine.  I was more concerned about getting two council candidates elected in a town where voters cross ballot lines regularly.  Besides, didn’t Christine know I was getting multiple emails a day directly from the Christie campaign looking for coverage here?  She didn’t care.  No excuses, just results, was what she demanded, nicely.   We all know how that tuned out as Christie won Monmouth County with over 60% of the vote.  It was a good thing Hanlon was not a Freeholder candidate that year.

In 2010 Hanlon and I were on opposite sides of the Little/Gooch primary in CD-6.   Early on in that race, Hanlon saw me talking to Diane Gooch at an event.   She quickly interjected herself into the conversation to protect her candidate from an unfriendly blogger.  There were no grudges after that race.  Quite the contrary.  She sought me out at an event to give me a tip about an action Highlands muncipal government could take to save significant amounts in one of our contracts.  I passed in on to the elected officials who implemented it.   That interaction was one of the most useful in my tenure as Highlands municipal chair.

Beneath her pleasant and humble demeanor is a tough former Bronx prosecutor. She’s an incredibly disciplined Strong Man competitor and martial artist.  Those sexists who say Christine will be Brian Nelson’s “puppet” don’t know either Christine or Brian nor realize that Hanlon could kick Nelson’s ass.

Those who underestimate Hanlon or don’t understand how she can fulfill all of her responsibilities and take on more, reveal more of their own inadequacies than they shed light on who she is.

I’ve never heard Christine ask for anything for herself.  I’ve heard her ask for time, effort and money for others and for our Republican cause.   I’ve never heard her boast of her accomplishments or talent.  I’ve heard her boost the accomplishment and talent of others, in an effort to forward Republican principles and candidates.

Christine Hanlon is the right choice for Monmouth GOP Chairwoman because no one works harder than she does. Few are smarter than she is.  Few live by the One Team One Goal No Excuses Just Results credo she lives by.  She’s in this first and foremost to make a difference.

Posted: June 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Christine Hanlon, John Bennett, Monmouth County Republican Committee, Monmouth GOP | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

5 Comments on “Who is Christine Hanlon? The Monmouth County GOP Chair’s Race, Part 4”

  1. Freespeaker1976 said at 7:16 am on June 11th, 2012:

    “Can we get an Amen,” folks?

    But this says it best…

    “Tell me why John Bennett will be a better Chair than Christine Hanlon,” I asked both Republicans. Neither had an answer. “

  2. Joe Schilp said at 7:25 am on June 11th, 2012:

    I had the distinct pleasure of working on a campaign with Christine Hanlon and can say that she is not merely a dedicated pro, but a friend that I am blessed to have. For those who say that “she’s only been on the scene for 4 years,” consider this; many people who get into something dive in head first work the hardest. When I first became politically active myself, within 6 months of becoming a committeeman, I became municipal committee treasurer and a campaign treasurer. Two years later, I was running for council myself and two years on, running for mayor.

    I would stand with Christine before an attacking army and fight to the finish. She’s a first class individual and I give her my highest recommendation without reservation. Smart voters on Tuesday will be voting for Christine Hanlon.

  3. Would agree with AG, if...... said at 8:57 am on June 11th, 2012:

    the main focus of CH was and continued to be a dedicated volunteer and party builder. I have met her on a few occasions, but in no manner “know her” personally. Agree she is attractive, bright and does present a positive image. But, from what I have been able to learn, she has been looking to advance herself and does not have seasoned political skills.

    I have sought out people who did get to know Chris when she first came on the scene. All confirm she is nice when you are on her side, but there is (as with all) another side as well. I didn’t get details but was told that she clashed w/John Curley and was part of group trying to get another candidate to run for Freeholder in 2009 and expressed anger when the Oxley pick (not Curley) was unsuccessful at screening. Others have heard her privately demean long time volunteers as being “out of touch,” “think they know everything,” and right, wrong or indifferent, Brian Nelson IS her “superior” in both the law firm and in the political arena. Maybe physically Chris could “kick his ass” but it is naive to think she is not lead by him and defers to his long term operative experience, connections, knowledge when her involvement is so recent. She is using the resources available and Nelson is the major asset she has.

    There is also a lot more personal ambition than AG is presenting, perhaps because he is not aware of it. This is fine, but naive of AG to promote her as if her only goal is the “County GOP” when she has expressed her interests in many and varied (all PAID) positions.

    My contacts recall her volunteering briefly at the end of McCain campaign (she may have been involved before, they had just not heard of her). But, say she really “stepped up” and went “all in” in 2009 Governor race, by volunteering to be County Coordinator (??did anyone else know this was available, how was she chosen? Maybe – Brian Nelson??) She was rewarded by being named State Committewoman and to a paid part time position on the Board of Elections, with full health benefits. Actually, if this was the extent of her “work” she would probably have more than enough time to really devote her passion to the County GOP. However, joining the Nelson law firm in 2010 or 2011 puts quite a different spin on things—looking for more work.

    AG may never have “heard her ask for anything,” but apparently MANY others have, starting with seeking to be Kim Guadagno’s replacement as Sheriff. I questioned this as “bizarre”, but two others confirmed that she had put her name in to Trenton, causing a “very strong reaction” -negative- from the new LT Gov who was supporting Sean Golden. My contacts say that there were a number of other “feelers” as well. Again, all are entitled to seek office, promote themselves, however, all should know this is part of her “package.”

    Also is the lack of real political experience and knowledge of the history of the County GOP. I am not in that 6th CD, but have many friends who were involved in 2010, both primary (both sides) and general. As to primary, I am told it was a “train wreck ” for Gooch, due to the total inexperience of Chris and others newly involved for many reasons, including that they “ignored” Anna, as a “no one.” (Because they had not been involved in County GOP matters during Anna’s Freeholder days). It was reported also, that on the Gooch campaign, she and others were PAID for their services.

    On the issue of being a mother of 4 young children I have been sceptical, not sexist. Full time work as lawyer, responsibilities of County Chair with reality of all the night meetings with locals, fundraisers etc. that I as a mother could not fathom. It is clear that Chris has been doing this for a couple of years and working out ! as well (nice promo AG for the studio, hmm, free advertising). Really, kudos to her on this other aspect of her life. I won’t criticize as I have known many “career women” who are “driven” and do thrive more from their work/positions and make sure their kids are cared for otherwise, and that is the Hanlon family’s business, not mine. This is a choice of a 21st century female–I just personally would not want to miss so much of my young childrens’ day to day lives.

    I am sure, however, that whoever is successful, it will be fine. I am not concerned about the APP/Bennett angle- APP irrelevant and trying to trash GOP via Chair vs candidates/issues is non starter. Plus, no one pays attention to them anymore and they have always loved Curley. Chris will have help from Nelson, et al and things will go on.

    Too bad not a JB-CH combo to resolve this, I am sure a lot of people would be on board and could create unity NOW.

  4. Democrats4Bennett said at 9:00 am on June 11th, 2012:

    Please vote for John Bennett …the more political jobs his firm can get, the more money he’ll be able to donate to our great Democratic candidates!

    Thank you, John, for your past support and campaign contributions.

  5. Charles M said at 9:45 am on June 11th, 2012:

    Very well said!