RANDOLPH – Now it’s Amalia Duarte’s party to run.
The only Democrat on the Mendham Township Committee was elected chair tonight of the Morris County Democratic Committee by acclimation.
Duarte took the helm during an outdoor meeting under sunny skies in the township’s Freedom Park and pledged, among other things, to make sure Morris Dems are in the game.
She said she wants the party to field candidates for every office. That doesn’t always happen.
A glaring example this time around is that Democrats are running no candidates in Randolph where four council seats are up. This is a township that is often competitive on the municipal level and which supported both Joe Biden and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill in 2020.
Duarte is the first woman to chair the Morris Democrats, meaning that both political parties in the county are now run by women. Laura Ali is the Republican chair.
Duarte replaces Chip Robinson, who had been chair for eight years and whose involvement in the party goes back to the 1990’s.
Robinson, who resigned last month, admitted to being burned out, saying he discovered of late he lacked the energy and enthusiasm he once had.
That’s not unusual.
Being a party chair can be all-consuming. There are always meetings to go to, candidates to find and disputes to settle. And don’t forget dealing with inflated egos and political pettiness.
Robinson said he’s looking forward to spending the fall without the pressure of an election on his back.
And attending the Far Hills Race Meeting, an iconic steeplechase and party held the third Saturday of October in Somerset County.
Addressing the crowd, Robinson said he was “incredibly proud” to have presided over the Morris Democratic organization when the party won two House seats, elected a governor and just about doubled its number of municipal seats.
He also gave a compliment of sorts to, of all people, Donald Trump. He said the Democrats’ surge in Morris was helped by women who came to the party after Trump’s election in 2016.
But there were also recent setbacks. Robinson said the loss last fall of Democratic mayor Michael Soriano in Parsippany was very painful.
He got a nice ovation when he finished.
Duarte said she’s convinced that Morris Dems can grow because their views are more in line with the county. For the record, the latest figures put the county’s Republican registration at about 133,000 compared to 116,000 for Democrats. Nearly 140,000 are unaffiliated.
She said Republican philosophy has become too extreme, pointing to a looming roll back of abortion rights, indifference to climate change, calls to ban books and a refusal by some to accept the 2020 election and to condemn the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Duarte told the crowd she helped organize a candlelight vigil to support democracy on the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol and invited all Republican lawmakers to join what she envisioned as a bipartisan event.
“Not one Republican responded,” she said.