The 20 Most Relevant County Party Chairs (Right NOW!)

Ocean County Republicans try to make sense of what happened and what to do next after the conviction of GOP Chairman George Gilmore on three counts of federal tax evasion.


Coughlin, left, and Jones
  1. Leroy Jones

Fielding Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo countywide, the Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman needs to produce big numbers in New Jersey’s most Democratic county for incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Facing a financially well connected (albeit summertime stumbling) challenger in Bob Hugin, Menendez allies see large pluralities in Essex and Hudson in particular as the key to statewide victory. Jones also has Sherrill’s candidacy on his plate and Malinowski’s (a single town, Millburn).


2. Amy DeGise

Newly crowned Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) chair (like Jones in neighboring Essex) has the considerable organizational challenge of creating general election excitement for home county hero Menendez to produce commanding Hudson pluralities and offset whatever Hugin can generate in the burbs.


3. Nick Scutari

Notwithstanding a bad Democratic Primary night, which included swallowing a loss in his hometown of Linden, the Union County Democratic Committee chairman (and 22nd District State Senator) remains one of the more savvy players in New Jersey politics. Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Scutari is also on the frontline of the effort to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey, which tops Governor Phil Murphy’s to-do list. He also oversees 13 towns that fall within the battleground 7th District this year.

Peter Murphy

4. Peter Murphy

The Passaic County Republican Committee Chairman ate a loss in the primary when Assemblyman Jay Webber outdueled his candidate for Congress. Now the question is whether Murphy (and his ally Essex County Republican Committee Chairman Al Barlas) will come out big for Webber in the general. Proprietor of Murphy’s Tavern, the chairman leads one of the most coherent bases of political operation in his home town of Totowa. In a close race, Murphy’s support could prove critical for Webber.


5. George Gilmore

The veteran Ocean County GOP Chairman stands astride two districts where Republican incumbents hope to stare down Democratic opposition this year: U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur in CD-3, and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith in CD-4. In his enduring statewide war for organizational supremacy with Hudson County, Gilmore also wants to put up monster numbers for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin.


6. Bill Layton

The Burlington GOP never totally got along with Gilmore’s Ocean County Republican Party, but MacArthur has gone a significant way toward uniting the two halves that make up the 3rd District. As usual, Layton will play a big role this year, lending his operations mettle to trying to reelect MacArthur in the face of a challenge by Democrat Andy Kim.

Gaburo in gear.

7. Al Gaburo

Somerset forms the central portion of the 7th District, where the County GOP Chairman wants to drive strong numbers for incumbent U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) while holding off a countywide Democratic challenge.

Chip Robinson

8. Chip Robinson

In a breakout year for the Morris County Democratic Committee chairman, Robinson fields a slate of Democrats who seek #MeToo Movement, anti-Trump, and 2017 Parsippany momentum to break into the auspices of a longtime all-GOP county government. Robinson also has key congressional candidates with whom to coordinate, including CD-7’s Tom Malinowski, and – critically – CD-11’s Mikie Sherrill. 


9. Ron DeFilippis

Newly installed as the Morris County GOP chairman, DeFilippis has the challenge of helping to elect Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) as the successor to the retiring U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11), while maintaining control of the Republican freeholder board.

Stellato World

10. Lou Stellato

The Bergen County Democratic Committee chairman has had one of the most successful tenures among all county organization leaders in the state, and this year faces the paramount challenge of driving turnout in his county for incumbent U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5).


11. Mike Testa

The Cumberland County GOP chairman fought down a challenge to his chairmanship by former Assemblyman (and former CD2 candidate) Sam Fiocchi. Now he appears prepared for a stab at the 1st District Senate seat Jeff Van Drew will vacate if Van Drew gets past embattled Republican candidate Seth Grossman in this year’s general election. If Van Drew beats Grossman and Testa runs, he would likely have company in a GOP Primary. At the very least, former state Senator Nick Asselta chief of staff Victoria Lods of Vineland is expected to challenge for the seat. Testa would have the challenge of avoiding the pratfalls of party chair turned unsuccessful senate candidate Paul DiGaetano of Bergen; and instead mimicking former Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal, who successfully transferred party building into a state senate seat.

Veteran Chair Schaffer.

12. Peg Schaffer

The Somerset County Democratic Chair last year sniped the county clerkship away from the GOP with Steve Peter’s defeat of Brett Radi, and this year hopes to combine forces with an invigorated Malinowski campaign in CD-7 (in #Me2 Movement heartland) to produce more countywide wins.


13. Kevin McCabe

The Middlesex County Democratic Committee Chairman as strong ties to Speaker Craig Coughlin, something to keep an eye on amid any developing intra-party fight in Trenton; also, if Menendez v. Hugin is tight in October, the incumbent Democrat will require added on-fire energy in places like Perth Amboy in New Brunswick, McCabe’s backyard.

Steinhardt, right, with Somerset GOP diehard Janice Fields.

14. Doug Steinhardt

Now the chairman of the State GOP, Steinhardt also chairs the Warren Republican Committee, and has the challenge of trying to create west Jersey enthusiasm for Bergen County’s John McCann in CD-5, as well as advancing the senate candidacy of Bob Hugin statewide.

Sherrill, right, with Currie

15. John Currie

The Passaic County Democratic Chair (and New Jersey Democratic Committee chairman) commands eight towns in the 11th District, ground zero for Democrats efforts to win back the U.S. House this year.


16. Keith Davis

The veteran Atlantic County GOP chairman has the difficult job of trying to keep CD-2 Republicans together behind the anti-establishment candidacy of longshot congressional prospect Seth Grossman.

Brown, left.

17. Dave Brown

The Monmouth County Democratic Committee chairman racked a victory in the primary when Josh Welle, his preference to take on Smith in CD-4, prevailed against an anti-establishment challenger. Now Brown has to mobilize troops for Welle in a contest that many insiders don’t see as winnable for Democrats as CD-2, CD-5, CD-11 and CD-7.

Monmouth County GOP Chairman Shaun Golden

19. Shaun Golden

For several years now, allies of the Monmouth County GOP chairman have been kicking the tires on a statewide run, and they’re especially motivated in the aftermath of Governor Phil Murphy’s first budget. If he runs for governor, Golden would have to get through a Republican Primary field that would likely include former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and maybe U.S. Rep. MacArthur, if the latter can convincingly defeat Andy Kim this year. But Golden – who’s also the county sheriff – must first help get Smith reelected this year in CD-4.  


19. Pat Torpey

The Hunterdon County GOP Chairman remains a stout ally of fellow Hunterdon resident incumbent U.S. Rep. Lance in one of the most closely-watched contests nationwide this year, as former assistant Secretary of State Malinowski attempts to wrench Lance’s seat.

20. Jack Zisa

Newly elected chairman of the Bergen County GOP, Zisa takes over a badly mauled party in the wake of Paul DiGaetano, who appeared to helm the organization on a fast track toward his own doomed state senate candidacy in LD-40. Complicating matters is Gottheimer’s considerable fundraising and a prevailing lack of belief in McCann as a forceful GOP alternative to the painstakingly bipartisan Democratic incumbent.

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One response to “The 20 Most Relevant County Party Chairs (Right NOW!)”

  1. We are going for Freeholder Board control in Atlantic which would seem to be a top twenty situation.

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