An impressive crowd of over 400 Monmouth Republican County Committee members gathered on Saturday morning to nominate their candidates for State Assembly, County Clerk and Freeholder. The size of the crowd was impressive not only because of the weather but because the results of the convention were a foregone conclusion as there were no challengers to the incumbent Assembly Members, Freeholder or Governor Chris Christie’s nominee for County Clerk.
Free of any competitive tensions, the mood at Colts Neck High School was upbeat, friendly and proud among the grassroots leaders who came out for Chairman Shaun Golden first nominating convention. Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso noted both the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. “This crowd is almost as large as last year’s convention when we had a competition for the freeholder nominations,” DiMaso said, “We’re in really great shape and that is a testament to Shaun’s leadership.”
Golden started the convention with an acknowledgement of the grass-root volunteer committee members who made over 100,000 phone calls and knocked on 25,000 doors in last years hard fought victory for Freeholders Lillian Burry and Gary Rich that overcame a 4-1 spending advantage and a dishonest negative message from Vin Gopal’s Monmouth County Democrats. Before introducing this years candidates, Golden acknowledged his leadership team of Vice Chairs Tony Fiore of Middletown, Christine Hanlon of Ocean Township, Rob Nicastro of Howell and Mary DeSarno of Wall.
Golden emphasized the demographic diversity of the Monmouth GOP with a recognition of Howell Municipal Chairman Juan Malave, the leader of the Party’s diversity council which produced a bi-lingual mail piece in the last election. Golden touted the Monmouth GOP leadership in empower women to hold elected office. Lt Governor Kim Guadagno, Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblywomen Angelini, Casagrande Handlin, Surrogate Rosemarie Peters, Freeholders Burry and Serena DiMaso were all acknowledge by Golden, as were several women who won municipal elections throughout Monmouth County last November.
County Clerk M. Claire French, who is retiring next month after 18 years as Clerk, was the woman who stole the show, as Golden interrupted the introduction of candidates to acknowledge at her “last convention as an elected official.” Freeholder Tom Arnone acknowledged the difference French has made in his career, and that of so many others with her nurturing support as the crowd spontaneously rose in a sustained standing ovation for French.
Upon arriving at the podium, French immediately asked the crowd to be seated, holding up a tissue saying, “please don’t make me use this,” to wipe her tears.
French acknowledge all of the volunteers who worked to elect Republicans in Monmouth County during her decades long career and said she was going to “spend time with my sweetheart who is my husband!” She express he happiness over the unity of the Party and Golden’s leadership and her love for each of the freeholders. French said she would stay involved in public service by encouraging and nurturing candidates and that she would work to elect a woman from Monmouth County to New Jersey’s highest office. ” I wonder who that could be,” she said without mentioning Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno by name.
John Curley’s Joe Biden moment
In addition to the outpouring of love for French, the highlights of the morning were provided by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and Freeholder John Curley.
Casagrande told a story of a constituent named Karen, a woman who works two jobs to make ends meet and who visits Casagrande’s Freehold legislative office twice per month. “She works in healthcare during the day at at a restaurant at night,” Casagrande said, “She’s afraid of losing her house. I don’t know how she finds the time to read the newspapers to find out what is going on, but every couple of weeks she comes into my office to discuss issues she wants me to fight for in Trenton. We’re here to represent the Karens of New Jersey. Not the special interests, not the corporations or unions. We’re doing this job for the Karens.”
In his usual fire and brimstone free association, Curley had something of a Joe Biden moment. “M. Claire French,” Curley exclaimed, “I just got off the phone with Congressman Chris Smith and he’s secured federal funding! Tomorrow night at the Lincoln Day Dinner he’s bringing a check. We’re putting Claire’s bust on Mount Rushmore!” A moment later, Curley said he was looking forward to following behind his running mate Christine Hanlon while knocking on doors during the campaign.
The convention closed with all the candidates being nominated by acclamation.
The nominees are:
For State Assembly
11th District: Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande
12th District: Ron Dancer and Rob Clifton
13th District: Declan O’Scanlon and Amy Handlin
30th District: Dave Rible and Sean Kean
For Monmouth County Clerk: Christine Giordano Hanlon
For Monmouth County Freeholder: John Curley