Based upon the voting results of the two Monmouth County political conventions that occurred on Tuesday evening, it would appear that the Monmouth Democratic Organization is united and the Monmouth Republican Organization is divided.
Vin Gopal’s margin of victory in the Democratic Chairman’s race was 73%-27%. John Bennett scored a 50.24%-49.75% victory in the Republican race.
Both parties had extraordinarily high turnouts with over 600 committee members voting. For a county party that has had no electoral success in recent years, the record turnout for the Democrats was an impressive showing.
But all is not rosy for the Democrats. Among Gopal’s minority opponents are his 3 county level candidates, Michael Steinhorn running for County Clerk and Freeholder candidates Bill Shea and Kevin Lavan. Gopal, Steinhorn, Shea and Lavan were all general election candidates last year. Gopal was an Assembly candidate in the 11th district. Steinhorn and Shea were county level candidates, and Lavan was an Assembly candidate in the 13th district. The divide is reportedly over Gopal’s relative (they all lost) success. He raised more money, got more press and came closer to winning than Steinhorn, Shea and Lavan did in 2011.
Bennett seemed to be tone deaf to the need for unity at the convention. His speech and that of Freeholder Lillian Burry in placing his name into nomination continued the divisive nature of the campaign. Christine Hanlon and Senator Jennifer Beck, in nominating Hanlon, were defensive.
His effusive praise of the Western Monmouth Republicans during his victory speech was met like a poke in the eye by many from the eastern and southern parts of the county. His acknowledgment of Christine Hanlon was nice, but his announcement that Mayor Susan Cohen of the western Monmouth town of Manalapan was a signal that the lines had been drawn. “If he was smart, the first thing we would have done was put Christine on the spot and publicly asked her to be Vice Chair,” more than one politico expressed to MMM in the aftermath of the convention.
But Tuesday night should be chalked up to enthusiasm after a hard fought razor thin victory.
Of more concern is the “Dear Monmouth County Republicans” email that Bennett sent out on Wednesday. The content of the email was pretty good. “I am aware of the fact that our County Party is deeply divided in some ways,” Bennet wrote, “It is clear that in order to continue the success of the Monmouth County Republican Organization, unification is paramount.”
The problem with Bennett’s email is not the content. The problem is who didn’t receive it. MMM’s unscientific survey of five high profile Hanlon supporters, three of them county committee members, two of them municipal elected officials, indicates that the email list was purged. None of them received it.
Hopefully the list wasn’t purged. Hopefully a better and more complete list will be used for the next email. Because, “it is clear that in order to continue the success of the Monmouth County Republican Organization, unification is paramount.”