The future of one of the premier Republican parties in the state belongs to Ronald DeFilippis.
DeFilippis, an accountant from Roxbury, defeated Robert Zwigard by a thin margin of 243 to 239 at Tuesday night’s GOP convention in Parsippany.
The race was often nasty, but DeFilippis quickly pleaded for unity.
“Our enemy is now the Democrats,” he said after climbing the podium at the Parsippany Sheraton.
He then beckoned Zwigard to the podium; he came forward with a forced smile.
“Are you with me?” DeFilippis asked.
“I’m with you,” Zwigard replied.
Both sides were initially encouraged by a large turnout that had voters waiting on line for about 30 minutes to register.
“If we did nothing else tonight but excite my party, we all won,” DeFilippis told the overflow crowd.
“This type of meeting can never happen in Cuba or North Korea, but it can happen in America,” he said.
County Sheriff James Gannon noted that the GOP lost 23 municipal seats in the last election. He said Zwigard would turn that trend around.
Another Zwigard supporter, state Sen. Anthony R. Bucco, struck a similar tone, saying, “The Democrats are coming after us.
That could be, but that’s now DeFilippis’ challenge.
The crowd included District 11 congressional candidate Jay Webber.
He too was encouraged by the turnout.
“When was the last time you saw so many Republicans in a room in Morris County,” he asked.
Webber was asked if he had a “horse” in the chairman’s race.
“The only horse in the race is the Morris County Republican party,” he said. “We have to get them energized.”
Interestingly, only 482 people voted, although there were many more than that in the room.
Many apparently just came to watch. And it was a good show.