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They’re not getting along right now.
Well, that’s politics.
Elections that don’t go according to plan (see Leonard Lance 2018, not that it’s the only measure of
Republicans under siege in Central Jersey) leave behind the residue of heartache, conflict at the heart of the machine, and the phoenix of ambition.
In this case, Bridgewater Council President Matt Moench wants to dethrone Mayor Dan Hayes, and in the process sees an iconoclastic opportunity kick dirt on Somerset County Republican Chairman Al Gaburo, who backs Hayes in the Republican Primary.
Moench has taken some early punishment in this contest and today let Gaburo know he doesn’t appreciate it.
Gaburo struck back.
He talked about a meeting the two men had last year when he said Moench went to the chairman to tell him he wanted to oppose Hayes.
Hayes did a good job as mayor, he said. The GOP doesn’t make a habit of taking out their own.
Too many Democrats around to fight one another.
“His answer, when I asked him why he wants to run against Dan, was, verbatim, ‘it’s my turn.'”
Even now, retelling it, Gaburo sounds uncomfortable.
“I don’t know what that means,” said the Republican chairman. “He said, ‘Dan’s been elected long enough.’ And I said, ‘that’s interesting you’ve been elected longer than Dan has.
“I don’t play the ‘my turn game,'” he added.
Moench followed through with his intention to fight Hayes, and Gaburo said it’s the two of them in the ring now, despite the council president’s best efforts to drag the chairman into punching range.
“He’s unhappy because I’m involved, but Dan’s a good mayor,” Gaburo said. “Dan is in it for the right reasons and Matt’s in it for himself. Talk to people in Bridgewater, they’ll tell you. Look. What I don’t care for here is the revisionist history. He’s running on this platform against development in Bridgewater, but on two key votes, one regarding the Center of Excellence and the other on Bridgewater’s COAH obligation, he voted yes. The mayor doesn’t get a vote.
“Matt does,” the chairman said. “He was the deciding vote twice, on the Center of Excellence, and Bridgewater’s COAH project. If he was indeed anti-development as he advertises, he would have blown up the Center of Excellence and COAH agreement, instead of voting for them, which he did.”
Gaburo acknowledged that it’s a free country.
Moench has the right to run.
But not to stretch the truth on the issues, he noted.
“What Matt is doing is dividing and imperiling Bridgewater. Look, they know him. To a whole bunch of people in Bridgewater, Matt becoming mayor is a bad thing. Interest of the town at heart? Dan is a school teacher. He’s running with the president of the Eisenhower School PTO. Matt? Matt’s not up to the job. He’s never been a leader of people. You outta hear the number of people from the Christie Administration who tell me – these are people who worked with Matt there – who tell me , ‘We’d love to help. When he was at the counsel’s office, he was here for a cup of coffee. It’s disappointing. If he would have hung in there he would have been fine, but as it is, Dan Hayes wins 2-1. He’s a good mayor, and people know it.”
Gaburo said what he sees as Moench’s hypocrisy irks him.
“For years Matt’s been up my tree and Dale’s tree about work; now this whole epiphany about Matt going against lobbyists. He was a lobbyist. There’s a whole narrative here.”
Moench’s decision to saddled up with sheriff’s candidate Tim Pino, who’s running in the GOP Primary against Gaburo-backed Bill Parenti, doesn’t bother him too much.
He doesn’t have much a beef with Pino.
“I was disappointed he chose not to screen; if he screened he would have had a shot,” Gaburo said. “I have no ax to grind with Tim Pino. My issue is with Matt, who thought it was his turn. He was never offered the county line. The reason that was never offered is because he decided to spend $20,000 to take out sitting Republican committeemen to get a majority committee. Many of those people he targeted were people who supported him. That’s the thanks they got. My decision is two fold: Dan Hayes has done a good job. And number two, Matt decided he was going to target sitting committee people, putting his own personal interests above the town he is professing to serve.
“The hypocrisy Matt has engaged in is something Bridgewater voters should pay attention to,” the chairman added. “They should remember that Dan works while, the last time I checked, Matt was unemployed. He tried to get jobs with lobbying firms. Dan has the interest of Bridgewater at heart and is not using the mayoralty to climb the ladder. There’s a big difference in their character.”
For his part, running for sheriff off the line, Pino, referencing Gaburo mentioning him, said, “I think now the County Committee sees why I chose not screen. I have no ax to grind with Chairman Gaburo either, other than him being a Dallas Cowboys fan.”