Laura Ali is taking a victory lap.
The chair of the Morris County Republican Committee says the newly-created county line “did what we thought it would do.”
By that, she meant “it united Republicans behind the choice of rank and file members of the MCRC.”
On a very basic level, that’s true.
There were contested races for two state Assembly nominations in LD-26 and even for the county’s representatives on the state Republican Committee. The party’s choices won both races.
One reason why Morris Republicans broke tradition and supported a “county line” this year was to give the party more choice in selecting general election candidates in a more politically competitive environment. Except for one slip-up in Parsippany where Jamie Barberio, who did not have the line, bested Lou Valori to secure the party’s mayoral nomination, that was accomplished.
Another reason was to avoid bitter and costly primaries.
That was not accomplished.
Total spending in the four-way fight in LD-26 exceeded a million dollars and the campaign was filled with accusations and insults that at times obliterated the truth, not to mention common sense. Jay Webber’s charge that BettyLou DeCroce supported black militancy fell into that category.
Did it work?
Webber did win – along with newcomer Christian Barranco.
But DeCroce won in Essex and Passaic where she had party support.
Her hopes were doomed when she lost in Morris where Webber and Barranco had the line. So it seems likely that the county line was the determining factor, not crazy political attacks.
That, of course, is how you draw it up. Yet on the other hand, just like many times in the past, it was a nasty Republican primary.
As Morris Republicans look at this primary in anticipation of the future, one thing should be clear. This county line business can be scary stuff.
DeCroce lost the Morris convention vote to Barranco by nine votes. That’s all. Nine votes. And now she’ll be leaving office.
This puts all candidates – incumbents included – on notice that success rides not so much with the voters at large, but with the few hundred county committee members. Which is precisely what critics dislike about having a line.
But with the line in Morris established, that debate is over.
Ali is looking ahead enthusiastically, proclaiming that the Morris GOP has never been stronger.
So strong, in fact, that Ali says, “I want to win races that people think we can’t win.”