Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal blames MMM publisher Art Gallagher for his primary fight
By Art Gallagher
The two Democrat nominees for Monmouth County Freeholder will be decided by voters in the Democrat Primary on June 4 as two candidates affiliated with the Bernie Sanders for President campaign filed to run for the nominations on Monday in Freehold.
Angelica Ashford of Manalapan and Laury Wills of Little Silver will be running against Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty and Brenda Sue Fulton in the Democrat primary. Doherty and Fulton are the choice of Monmouth Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal and will be bracketed on the primary ballot with the Hillary Clinton for President campaign.
The fact that Gopal is unable to unite the Monmouth Democrat Party behind his handpicked candidates is a sweet irony, given his criticism today, apparently before he knew he would be faced with a freeholder primary, of what he called “disarray and chaos” in the Red Bank GOP because Council President Cindy Burnham was not nominated by the Republican Party for a second term. Gopal commented on RedBankGreen:
“News today that the Red Bank Republicans have booted Council President Cindy Burnham from the GOP ticket shows the total disarray and chaos the Republican Party in Red Bank is in. Just three months ago, the Red Bank Republican Party voted to make Cindy Burnham the Council President – receiving votes from all of her three Republican colleagues. Three months later, in an unprecedented move, they boot her from the ticket. This should send a big wakeup call to the residents of Red Bank that this is not the political party we want running Red Bank – they don’t even have their own house in order.
Gopal failed to mention that Red Bank Democrat council members Ed Zipprich and Kathy Horgan also voted for Burnham as council president when the governing body reorganized in January. If Gopal’s logic were to hold, the Red Bank Dems should not have put up a candidate for Burnham’s seat on the council. Gopal is either stupid or he thinks Monmouth County voters are stupid.
Burnham burnt her last bridge with the Red Bank GOP after she went public criticizing the Republican majority’s professional and volunteer appointments two weeks after she voted for them at Red Bank’s Reorginization in January. According to Chairman Sean DiSomma, the Red Bank Republican nominating committee voted 12-2 against re-nominating Burnham.
Gopal complained to Asbury Park Press reporter Suzanne Cervenka that the Monmouth GOP, through me, recruited Ashford and Wills to run for Freeholder. I have never spoken to Ashford, Wills, or anyone with authority in the Sanders for President campaign.
Democratic party chairman Vin Gopal said Monmouth County Republicans, via conservative blogger Art Gallagher, tried to recruit people to challenge at least Solomeno.
“I think it’s disgraceful the Republican Party is getting involved in recruit candidates for Democratic contests,” he said. “It goes against what democracy is supposed to be.”
I don’t think Gopal understands what democracy is supposed to be. He also doesn’t understand what is happening in his own Party, as I apparently knew that his hand picked freeholder candidates would be facing a primary challenge before he did.
Cervenka asked me today if I recruited Ashford and Wills. She asked I was ever an employee or consultant to the Monmouth GOP. I told her the truth. I have never spoken to Ashford or Wills (and haven’t been able to reach them for this article). Monmouth GOP candidates pay to advertise on this site, as have Democrat candidates on the county and municipal levels, and that I have done social media work for GOP candidates in the past. That’s not a secret, I told Cervenka. It is a matter of public record through NJ ELEC disclosures. (I am available as a consultant to any qualified conservative candidates who can afford me.)
I urged Cervenka to verify with Ashford, Wills, and Assemblyman John Wisnewski, the leader of Sanders’ campaign in New Jersey, that I had no contact with them. Cervenka reported that the Sanders campaign admitted recruiting Ashford and Wills.
But so what if I did? I consider it a service to the residents of Monmouth County to thwart Gopal’s attempts to turn our home into Essex or Hudson Counties, as he has espoused. This is a democracy and I have worked hard to build an audience of over 83,000 readers per month and growing. It is my right to advocate any political positions as I see fit. Gopal has tried to duplicate my efforts. He’s harassed advertisers and tried to destroy my credibility. None of it has worked. MMM’s readership and apparent influence has grown every year since I started the site. I expect Gopal to attack me again.
I got wind, from three separate sources, that the Sanders campaign would put up freeholder candidates last week while I was working on a project in Virginia. I think it is great that Gopal, Doherty and Fulton have to wage a primary campaign. I hope they lose. Ashford and Wills should call me. I’d work for them cheap in the primary, but I won’t likely support them in the general election.
I supported Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Director Serena DiMaso in their last two elections and intend to support them again this year. They are doing a great job cutting taxes and spending while improving the quality of county and local government services.
Cervenka misquoted me in her article about the Democrat primary and my role, or lack thereof, in recruiting candidates. She wrote that I said that Gopal does not offer Monmouth County residents substantive candidates. What I said is that Gopal does not offer substantive campaigns.
Every campaign that Gopal has run since he was elected chairman of the Monmouth Dems in 2012 has been based on dishonest distortions of the Republican candidates records and on baseless attacks on their character. Gopal and the Monmouth Dems have never offered a substantive idea on how to improve Monmouth County government. If Gopal wants to reduce my influence, he should start running honest, substantive campaigns. It really would be that easy.
Had I been in New Jersey last week, and not working 16 hour days on the project I was working on in Virginia, I would have contacted the Sanders campaign and encouraged them to run a full slate, including a Sheriff and Surrogate candidate. I would have helped identify those potential candidates.
While I have a very high personal regard for Vincent Solomeno, Gopal’s candidate for Surrogate, and I was personally deeply moved that he wrote me a handwritten note of support from his last overseas military deployment in response to an attack on me by Gopal, I don’t believe Solomeno understands or is qualified for the Surrogate job. He has been promoting himself as an advocate for seniors and orphans. Those are admirable things to be, but that are not the role of the Surrogate. The Surrogate is a quasi-judicial position, not an advocacy position.
Rosemarie Peters is doing a great job as Surrogate. She knows the job, does it well, and deserves to be reelected. Being an attorney is not a legal qualification to be Surrogate. Monmouth County is fortunate to have an attorney, which Peters is, in that position.
As I was driving home from Virginia last week, I called Doris Lin, a Freehold Township attorney who did a great job defending Maria Vaccarella, the squirrel rescuer, against the ridiculous charges against her earlier this year, to both confirm what I had heard about the Sanders campaign fielding freeholder candidates in the primary and to suggest Lin join the slate as a Surrogate candidate. Lin had not heard about the freeholder candidates and said she could not run for Surrogate. I suspect she called Gopal shortly after getting off the phone with me. I also called former Red Bank Councilman Michael Dupont. Dupont did not return my call.
Likewise with Jeff Cantor, Gopal’s candidate for Sheriff. Cantor does not understand the job he is running for. In two ridiculous press releases in the last two weeks, Cantor tried to tie Sheriff Shaun Golden to Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about torturing terrorist. To his credit, Golden has not accused Cantor of supporting his running mate, Hilary Clinton’s, handling of the Benghazi tragedy or her allegedly felonious conduct with her emails.
Cantor revealed that he does not understand the Sheriff’s position in his press releases when he referred to the job as the “top law enforcement position in the county.” The County Prosecutor is the top law enforcement officer in the county. Cantor needs a job, but he doesn’t understand the one he is running for. If I had time to help the Sanders campaign recruit a Sheriff candidate last week, I would have proudly done so.
Regardless of the outcome of the Democrat primary or the general election, Cantor and Solomeno will probably get the high paying jobs, generous benefits and pensions they are really seeking. Gopal will place them in Jersey City, like he did Kevin Kane, the Dem County Clerk candidate last year, or in Brick Township where Gopal’s former blogger now works, or some other Democrat stronghold in Essex, Union or Middlesex Counties.
Golden, who is also the Monmouth GOP Chairman, deserves to be congratulated for keeping the contentious GOP presidential primary out of County politics.