2013 Predictions

A better late than never “fiscal cliff” deal will get done in Washington.  Federal taxes and spending will both rise.  The federal debt ceiling will rise in the coming months.

Last minute legal maneuvers by “birthers” to prevent Barack Obama’s election by the electoral college will fail.

New Jersey will confront a budget shortfall of almost $1 billion.  Governor Christie will attempt to plug part of the shortfall with the privatization of the lottery.  There will be painful spending cuts during the first six months of the year.

Congress will pass and the president will sign the $60.4 billion Sandy Relief Bill.

The rebuilding of the Jersey Shore communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy will be slowed by FEMA.

Despite New Jersey’s fiscal mess and frustration over the rebuilding process, Governor Christie’s approval ratings will be in the high 50’s throughout the year.  Christie will be reelected, defeating State Senator Barbara Buono.   The Democratic Party will retain control of the State Legislature.

The State Senate will confirm David Baumann as a State Supreme Court Associate Justice.  They will not confirm Robert Hanna.

Joe Oxley will be confirmed as a Superior Court Judge.

There will be surprise retirements in the Monmouth County Vicinage of the Superior Court.

The first Monmouth GOP nominating convention under Chairman John Bennett and his new by-laws will see no challenges to incumbent freeholders, legislators or the sheriff.  There will be Tea Party led primary challenges in the 11th, 13th and 30th Legislative Districts.  The incumbents will all win.

The Monmouth GOP by-laws will be amended at the nominating convention to make the chairman’s term two years.

The Monmouth County Democratic Party will have difficulty recruiting a full slate of legislative and county candidates.

Tom Arnone will be the Director of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders.

What do you think will happen?



Posted: January 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Predictions | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

One more thing about by-laws

By Art Gallagher

While researching county committees and the question of by-laws this week I stumbled upon an interesting provision in the unconstitutional amendment to NJSA 19:5-3.2 that creates a significant incentive for county parties to create by-laws.

In Monmouth County we elect county committee members and the Chairman every two years.   In trying to find the law that set those terms, I couldn’t find it.  The terms of committee members and chairmen does not appear to be spelled out clearly anywhere in the law.  I consulted an expert election law attorney figuring he would have the answer on his finger tips.  After an hour searching the Intenet together over the phone, we still couldn’t find it.

Title 19 refers to annual elections but it isn’t clear.  My election law expert found a case going back to the 1960’s that could be interepted to require annual elections.

I confess that my first thought upon this discovery was somewhat selfish.

Last year, due to the same snafu in the primary ballot printing that placed Dan Peters for Sheriff under Anna Little for Congress, making the Sheriff primary an unexpected race, county committee challengers in Highlands were also bracketed with Little.

I knew my county committee slate was in trouble as soon as I saw the ballot.  Early on in the process Chairman Oxley assured me that the challengers would be in the Siberian section of the ballot.   That I was supporting Little over Gooch for Congress was no secret.  I had raised the question of bracketing the incumbent committee with Little in the primary because I expected her to win Highlands, which she did.   Oxley assured me that the challengers would not be bracketed with Little and the committee that I led submitted our petitions under Gooch and the rest of the county line.

I know this wasn’t a dirty trick on Oxley’s part because he was more surprised and upset by the ballot as I was. Not so much because of the Higlands bracketing, but because of the Dan Peters for Sheriff bracketing under Little.  Suddenly Shaun Golden for Sheriff lawn signs had to be rush ordered and placed throughout the 6th congressional district.

We weren’t going to buy four different sets of lawn signs for a county committee primary in Highlands that less than 200 people were going to vote in.  But we did spent the weekend before the primary on the phone asking historical primary voters to cast a vote for Little for Congress and then move to the left and vote the county line for the rest of the ballot.  Those hundreds of voice mails that said, “Please vote Anna Little for Congress in column B and then move to the left to column A and vote for Shaun Golden for Sheriff, Clifton and Arnone for Freeholder, Frank Nolan for Mayor and our local county committee team” must have sounded pretty weird to the people who listened to them.  The messages didn’t work and the challengers won the primary on Little’s coat tails.

Discovering that the terms of committee members weren’t defined by law and what little law there was pointed to annual elections, it occurred to me to have my committee team in Highlands file petitions this year two minutes before the filing deadline.

If the clerk accepted our petitions and put us on the ballot, and if everyone kept their mouths shut, the current Highlands committee wouldn’t even know that they were about to be voted out until they got their sample ballots in the mail.  This was fun fantasy.

But if the clerk said, “there’s no county committee election this year,”  and I said, “there should be, let’s go to see Judge Lawson,” word would get out we’d waste a bunch of time and money.

If I prevailed, either in court or by the clerk accepting the petitions and putting us on the ballot, the victory would be short lived and all hell could break lose through out the county and as unhappy Republicans and Tea Party activists tried to take over the party every year.  We could have a different county chairman every year.  It could lead to chaos and ultimately Democratic control of the county government.

All of that went through my head in less time than it took for you to read it while I was on the phone and the Internet with my election law expert friend when I remembered reading in the Ocean County Republican By-Laws that the the term of county committee members in Ocean is four years.

“Hey election law attorney friend,” I said, ” the Ocean County By-Laws say that the terms of county committee members are four years, what’s up with that?”

Back to the unconstitutional statute we went and there is was….the new law passed by Corzine and the legislature provides that county committee terms are determined by committee by-laws.

That seems to be a pretty good reason to have by-laws.

Maybe we’ll have by-laws by the primary filing deadline.  If not, we might have some fun in Highlands after all.

Posted: February 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Highlands, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Republican Committee | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

On By-Laws and Candidate Selection

By Art Gallagher

The boost in traffic visiting this site the last couple of days  and some of the comments in Fred Lehlbach’s post, Where are the By-Laws? ,  and Mike Halfacre’s By-Laws Don’t Matter, Yes They Do, seems to indicate that the topic has considerable interest.

Or maybe I should write less and turn the site over to guest writters more often.  Actually I started this piece in response to Fred’s and before Mayor Halfacre submitted his. Some of my points may duplicate Mike’s.

By-Laws and candidate selection

The 2009 State statute that Fred cited does not require that county committee members be empowered to vote on who the county organization’s endorsed candidates will be.  It requires that there be by-laws and that the by-laws be available to the county committee members.

The Ocean County GOP has by-laws.  There is nothing in them regarding candidate selection.

By-Laws and the law

I think the Monmouth GOP should have by-laws, if for no other reason than to make the controversy go away and to keep it from coming back every year or so.

But that we don’t have by-laws does not mean that the county GOP is operating outside of the law.  As Fred noted, the amendment to NJSA 19:5-3.2  has no effective date.  Even if it did, the law itself was probably unconstitutional the minute Governor Corzine signed it.

In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Eu v. San Francisco Democratic Central Committee  that the State of California could not regulate the endorsement of candidates or the way that political parties organize themselves.  The court ruled that the California law in question violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

If California can’t do it, New Jersey can’t do it.

The U.S. Supreme Court trumps the NJ Legislature and Corzine.

Oxley’s Candidate Selection Process and County Committee Members

The candidate selection process that Chairman Oxley has employed three times now is not designed to disempower county committee members.  It is designed to empower municipal chairs, who are elected by the county committee members.

The “Oxley method” is a screening committee comprised of all municipal chairs and all present and former elected officials above the municipal level, i.e., all present and former county level officials and state legislators.   The municipal chairs outnumber the “statesmen”  on paper.  Yet in both 2009 and 2010 many municipal chairs, too many, did not show up for the screening committee selection.   As Halfacre noted, the presence of present and former elected officials in the process does dilute the municipal chairs’ influence, and thereby the county committee members, but not nearly as much as voluntary non-participation on the part of the chairs and the committees dilutes their own influence.  There are 53 municipalities in Monmouth County.  If 53 municipal chairs showed up for the screenings, the chairs would have the power.

Oxley has made it clear that he expects the chairs to consult with their local committees. Most who participate in the process do consult with the local committees.

Oxley is not a “boss.” 

In 2009 his choice for Freeholder was not nominated by the screening committee. 

In 2010 everyone knew who Oxley’s choices for the congressional nominations were.  They, Diane Gooch, Scott Sipprelle and incumbent Congressman Chris Smith, won the party endorsements.  If there was any pressure being applied by Oxley for his choices, I, as a municipal chair and a vocal advocate for other candidates in CD 6 and 12, didn’t feel it.  I had no idea who Oxley’s choice for Freeholder was, even after asking him.

In the “Oxley method” those who want to influence the candidate selection process should contact their local county committee members, municipal chairs, elected officials on the county and state level and former elected officials on the county and state level.

Is the “Oxley method” the right way or the best way?  I don’t know.  It has been controversial, even among screening committee members.  However, it is hard to argue with the results. 

Joe Oxley inherited a Monmouth GOP that was on the verge of losing control of county government for the first time in two decades when he was first elected Chairman in June of 2008.  We lost a one seat on the Freeholder board in 2006, 2007 and 2008 each.   We won two of them back, one at a time in 2009 and 2010.  A victory this year brings Monmouth County’s government back into unanimous Republican representation.

Weather you agree with his methods or not, Oxley has stopped the bleeding.  He’s done much better than stop the bleeding.  He’s lead the party to two overwhelming victories in a row.

I love conventions and the campaigning that occurs leading up to them.   I think they bring more people into the process and force candidates to define who they really are.  I think competition is healthy and makes the party stronger.  There is often great political theatre.

Yet it is also true that these campaigns have caused lasting divisions that continue to hurt the party.  Oxley’s two predecessors held conventions.  The party became more and more divided and lost repeatedly.

We should keep examining what we are doing and look to improve it.  Even when it is working well.  We should keep looking for ways to welcome interested people into the process.  In an ideal world open conventions and full committee participation would be the way to go.  But the truth is getting full committee participation looks to be a pipe dream and the recent past of a more open process as proved to be destructive.

Posted: February 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Joe Oxley, Monmouth County Republican Committee | Tags: , , | 8 Comments »

By-Laws Don’t Matter, Yes They Do

By Mayor Mike Halfacre, Fair Haven

I am following with interest the piece posted yesterday and its comments on the lack of By-laws for the Monmouth County Republican Committee. First, let’s clear up some nomenclature. Most think “by-laws” and think “candidate selection”.  It is clear, however, that the by-laws don’t have to cover candidate selection. The statute contains nothing about what the by-laws should contain, only that there should be by-laws.

However, as someone who spent a considerable amount of time looking at County Party by-laws and their candidate selection procedures last Spring, I can tell you unequivocally two things:

  • 1) By-laws don’t matter in candidate selection.

I spent the better part of four months familiarizing myself with the by-laws of the Mercer and Middlesex County Republican Parties, where there are, in the case of Mercer, relatively minimalist by-laws, and in the case of Middlesex, relatively byzantine by-laws.  I also spent time trying to divine what the selection process would be in Monmouth County, where there is nothing in writing. Suffice it to say, the ultimate decision on what candidate would get the “party line” in the race I was interested in, the 12th Congressional District, was the same in all three of those counties.   

In Mercer County, the Chair came out early and often for their hometown candidate, (look where that got him) and regardless of by-laws, that “nominating convention” was a home game for the candidate. (As it should have been, by the way.)  But “rules” had nothing to do with the outcome.  Mercer County is not under Republican Control, and hasn’t been for years.

In Middlesex County, the candidate selection process is complicated, multi-part and ultimately, wide-open. If you pay your entry fee, or if someone else pays your entry fee, you get a vote on whom the candidate will be. Middlesex County has not had Republican county control in twenty years. 

In Monmouth County, the “Screening Committee”, is a loosely defined body of past and present County and higher elected officials, past and present County leaders and current Municipal Chairs. No actual list of the Screening Committee was made available. (At least, not to me) We had to make one up. But these people made the decision.  Sometimes it is a secret ballot, sometimes it is not. Historically, Monmouth County is dominated by the GOP.

In the 12th  Congressional District, in each of these three counties, the candidate selection outcome was the same. (But so was the election result)

By-laws don’t matter in candidate selection. 

  • 2) By-laws matter a great deal.

From a purely public perception stand-point, by-laws matter. To not have by-laws sends a message to the interested public that you don’t care about process, that the same group of Old Boys/Elitists/career politicians/whatever are making the decisions about who will run for office.  To people with a Tea Party-type background, not having written rules to follow is anathema.

For example, in the past 18 months, there has been a resurgence of interest in politics thanks to the Tea Party.  It should be a priority of leadership to welcome and encourage participation on the Republican team. The first question often heard is “How can I get involved?” the answer usually is, “Get in touch with your local County Committee. Run for a Committee seat. Then you get to help pick candidates and steer the party.” 

Except often, that is not the right answer at all. In Monmouth County, the County Committee may have no voice. In the case of Congressional or Legislative Districts, the Past and Present elected and past and present County Party leaders often outnumber the Municipal Chairs. Where the Municipal Chair vote is thus diluted, the County Committee vote is even further diluted.  And this assumes the Municipal Chair accurately reflects the feelings of the County Committee people he or she represents.

Why would we want to send this message?  If we only welcome their votes in November, and not their participation all year long, we will soon lose their votes in November.

We should write it down, so everyone knows the process.

By-laws matter.

Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mike Halfacre, Monmouth County Republican Committee | Tags: , , | 15 Comments »

Where Are The By-Laws?

By “Frederick Lehlbach”


Monmouth County is blessed by terrific Republican elected officials at the State, County and local levels. Our GOP legislators, Freeholders, Mayors and Committeemen all work tirelessly on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of Monmouth County.


As we approach yet another Primary season without a set of By-Laws for the County Republican Organization, it’s time for those elected officials to put on their other hat, and act on behalf of rank and file Monmouth County Republicans. It’s time to publicly and privately pressure Chairman Oxley to adopt By-Laws.


The topic of By-Laws has been around since the days of Bill Dowd, who ran the County Committee with an iron fist. With his downfall, each subsequent “administration” has promised By-Laws and reform. Each subsequent administration has failed to do anything even remotely resembling adoption of By-Laws and reform.


Seeing the opportunity for abuse, the State Legislature enacted a requirement for By-Laws in 2009. The statute, NJSA 19:5-3.2 states as follows:

The members of the county committee of a political party shall adopt a constitution and bylaws, ensuring fundamental fairness and the rights of the members of the county committee in the governance of the county party.  The constitution and bylaws of a county committee shall be posted and displayed on its Internet website, if the committee has a website.  A county committee shall provide a copy of its constitution and bylaws to the county board of elections of the county, and the constitution and bylaws shall be posted and displayed on the county board’s Internet website, if the county board has a website. (emphasis added)

 Did you catch that highlighted part? “ensuring fundamental fairness and the rights of the members of the county committee in the governance of the county party.” It seems that the Legislature wanted the County Committee involved in the governance of the county party.  


Unfortunately, the statute failed to set a deadline for enactment, but it seems to me that almost two years is too long. Other GOP organizations in other Counties have managed to adopt By-Laws and operate under written standards. Only Monmouth County continues to be run as an Old Boy Network, where candidates are selected and policies made by a select few (or even a select one)


It is even more unfortunate that Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin were sponsors of this law.  Where are they now?  What are the party leaders (and the legislators who passed this law) afraid of? Greater participation by motivated groups like the Tea Party will only strengthen the GOP. Shutting them out of the candidate selection process will only lead to contested Primaries and divisiveness. (See 6th Congressional District Primary, June 2010) If the Party is going to pick who “gets the line”, then it should pick who gets the line by the most open method possible. (Or really open it up and don’t give out the line, instead having truly “Open Primaries”)


I call on Monmouth County’s GOP Senators, Assemblymembers and Freeholders to pressure Chairman Joe to open up the process, adopt By-Laws and answer to the long neglected Party roots, the County Committee.

Posted: February 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County Republican Committee | Tags: , , | 14 Comments »