In Atlantic City: And Then There Were Five

ATLANTIC CITY – In pursuit of the Republican nomination for the 2nd District Congressional seat and trying to amass the most buzz points in a hard-to-navigate GOP environment with (apparently) state Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1) on the horizon, seven contenders made their individual arguments to the members of the Atlantic County Republican Party this morning at the Atlantic City Country Club.

“Now is the time we need to get together,” said former Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-1), who won Cape May but has struggled since, earlier this week failing to land the backing of his home county of Cumberland.

Teach company senior project manager Brian Fitzherbert next went to the podium.

“I’m well educated,” he boasted “Paul Ryan and I had the same professors [at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. …Use me. Use my network, and we can bring jobs here.” He celebrated what he said is President Donald J. Trump’s national bully pulpit push for manufacturing, making the case for tech and manufacturing job creation.

“I’ve been fully vetted by the FBI,” Fitzherbert added, arguing that Democrats mobilized (presumably) behind Van Drew won’t be able to uncork a November surprise against him if he’s the GOP nominee.

Some shhhs and shushes punctuated his remarks.

Attorney Seth Grossman occupied the mic.

“Donald Trump carried the 2nd District by 45,000 votes in 2016,” said the CD2 hopeful.

In 2017, however, party drag doomed GOP candidates.

“There are consequences for who you pick at the top of the ticket,” he said. “The party picked the lieutenant governor of the most unpopular governor in New Jersey history.”

He made the local lumps sound like strength.

“Every bad thing that happened in America we [Atlantic City] understood,” Grossman argued.

Then Linwood engineer Hirsh Singh went to the front of the room.

If there was a frontrunner this morning ahead of the vote, it was Singh, who ahead of this critical convention has landed three party lines, compared to one for Fitzherbert, one for Fiocchi, one for retired FBI special agent Robert “Turk” Turkavage, and one for Somers Point Councilman James Toto.

Singh introduced himself as a pro-Trump pro-2nd Amendment Constitutional conservative who also played the lead in a high school production of Jesus Christ Superstar. NJIT grad. Son of a businessman/engineer father.

“They [Democrats] have a stranglehold on too many minorities because they come here and hear we’re racist,” said the favorite.

Toto was next.

An Armed Services vet with blue collar values – he surprised the crowd when he suddenly did this.

Turkavage went next.

“I will fight that the tech center receives the appropriate funding it needs,” said the candidate.

Unlike Singh, Turkavage made no public statements of support for the President, but obliquely – in this atmosphere – offered this – as an FBI agent, “I learned important lessons about how to work with people,” he said.

Attorney John Zarych spoke last.

He thanked wife Linda “for all her love and support.” Grateful for the candidacy of Bob Hugin. “Every once in a while, someone miraculous steps up,” he offered. “I don’t know if there’s ever been a better candidate than Bob Hugin.”

Then he did this.

It was seven.

Now five.


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