OAKLAND – A good campaign covers a lot of ground. There are issues to talk about, contrasts to draw and any number of events to attend.
All that’s great, but you also have to get people to vote.
That’s easy, no? Not all the time.
Bergen County Republicans know that.
A squadron of county GOP officials and candidates gathered here Tuesday night at an Italian restaurant at the invitation of Ronald Lin, one of three county commission candidates. The others are Dr. Doug Holden and Deirdre Paul.
The last few years have been rough for Bergen Republicans, but they’re hopeful for a turnaround beginning Tuesday. Lin said he’s doing what candidates do – beginning his day long before the sun to buttonhole commuters at train stations and campaigning throughout the rest of the day.
Then many of the speakers got around to voting.
State Sen. Holly Schepisi noted the obvious, “We are down to the wire.”
Then she made a more substantive point – Republicans and like-minded souls have to vote.
“Republicans who don’t trust the system … they are the ones who will help elect Democrats,” she said.
It’s a very legitimate point.
The legacy of Donald Trump is far from complete, but he can claim “credit” for injecting doubt and suspicion into our election process. So-called election deniers are running all over the country with some suggesting they will only accept the results if they win.
A somewhat logical response to that is not to bother voting.
New Jersey Republicans, beginning last year with Jack Ciattarelli. have tried to dispel the crazy rumors of election shadiness.
Frank Pallotta, the CD-5 candidate, did the same Tuesday night.
He asked the crowd to think about all the things they dislike about the other side – inflation, rising crime, the current state of public education.
Pallotta said the only way to change things is to vote; getting angry isn’t enough.
It was pointed out that Ciattarelli would have won last year’s race for governor if more registered Republicans voted. That’s true, but only up to a point. Turnout was lousy among registered Dems too.
However, it continues to be true that Democrats do much better with early voting. Statistics I saw today show that about 327,000 registered New Jersey Democrats have already voted through early in-person voting or by mail-in ballots. That compares to 116,000 Republicans.
Todd Caliguire, the party’s county executive candidate, struck both a historical and highly rhetorical note.
Calling the midterms “truly a 1776 moment,” he offered some sage advice.
“Don’t pick up a musket, pick up a ballot.”