Gaburo Sounds off on DiGaetano, Panos and Karavan in Letter Read to GOP Chairs at Woodbridge Steakhouse; Layton Attacks Guadagno and Gilmore

As the party grapples with a thorny primary contest, Somerset County GOP Chairman Al Gaburo in absentia tonight singled out fellow county Republican Party chairs to soundly slap at a scheduled meeting of the party chairs at a Woodbridge steakhouse, while his ally called out Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno as a “guaranteed loser.”
Gaburo didn’t show up at the meeting tonight in a dimly lit basement where the chairs wolfed on steaks, and neither did Burlington County GOP Chairman Bill Layton.

Layton, though, also made his own opinions known about the group of diners led by Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore, a champion of Guadagno who is in trouble, according to this story by Politico’s Matt Friedman.

Essex GOP Chairman Al Barlas also stayed home.
Those three – maybe coincidentally – resist those chairs backed by Gilmore, who also staunchly back Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno for governor.
Gaburo and his two allies back Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16).
Incoming State Committeeman Scott Ross read the letter on Gaburo’s behalf, in which he pointed out what he deemed the questionable actions of Bergen County GOP Chairman Paul DiGaetano, Middlesex GOP Chair Lucille Panos and Cape May Chairman Marcus Karavan.

“I write today with a profound sense of disappointment on a number of fronts,” Gaburo said through the voice of Ross. “It is no secret that many months ago we all gathered in a setting just like this in an effort to air and work through some of our differences. Many of us believed and all of us agreed at that meeting that the Association would host a forum for the announced and believed to be announced candidates for governor before the end of 2016. The purpose of that agreement was to see if a consensus could begin to take form over the best candidate and best direction for our party. Let me reinforce my earlier statement: WE ALL AGREED TO THIS.

“For reasons unknown to me, someone or some individuals decided not to move forward with such a meeting in the agreed upon time frame. When I inquired during the Fall of 2016 as to how we were doing with setting up the agreed upon meeting I was told ‘The Holidays are a difficult time to get a quorum.’

“Really?” Gaburo wondered. ” We had the better part of 2016 to pick a date, schedule it and have our meeting. For whatever reason it didn’t happen.”

That was a direct slap at the chair of the chairs, Hudson County Chairman Jose Arango.
Instead, he said, what ensued were months of internal unrest, finger pointing and duplicity.
“While I fully understand and support each chairperson endorsing whomever they prefer and going through whatever by-laws their county organizations prescribe, what I don’t support is the manner in which this issue has been handled. Three specific examples come to mind: 1. One county actively worked on changing their screening rules up through the night before their convention in an effort to benefit a single candidate. [They were ultimately unsuccessful] [Panos, who told InsiderNJ she had no idea what Gaburo was talking about] 2. One county, despite Assemblyman Ciattarelli placing 2nd in their screening committee was put in the 3rd position on a ballot so as not to be paired with a popular candidate for Senate. [DiGaetano] Fair?
“3. One county’s chairperson decided not to return a single call from a candidate for governor nor the outreach from various individuals to discuss screening process or anything else for that matter [Karavan]. In fact, that same chairperson after providing zero information or the courtesy of a return phone call allowed many people to vote absentee at the convention thereby depriving a particular candidate the ability to be judged fairly. Again I ask, ‘FAIR’?”

In his statement, Gaburo took time to commend both Chairman Keith Davis of Atlantic and Chairman Pat Torpey of Hunterdon.

“Neither one of them to my knowledge endorsed a candidate to date in this race,” Gaburo said. Both of them ran good and honorable conventions that are a tribute to them and their organizations. The outcome was split. Lieutenant Governor Guadagno won Atlantic and Assemblyman Ciattarelli won Hunterdon. A good and fair competition was had by all. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the frustration shared with our group by Chairman Layton of Burlington County a couple of weeks ago. I agree with Bill that we have a lot of questions to ask ourselves. I agree with Bill that this organization has lost its way and I agree with Bill that it needs to be reformed. I will do all I can in the coming weeks and months to work with those chairs who agree that we can do better, that when you give your word it needs to mean something and not just a platitude to get past a tough meeting. It’s time for a change, our party and our voters deserve no less.”

BurlCo Chair Bill Layton

Layton himself sounded off in a statement of his own.

“the unfortunate reality is that the chairman’s organization has been duped by powers that would like to coronate a guaranteed loser as our gubernatorial nominee,” said the BurlCo chair.

“I chose to no loner participate because I believe the process should be open to all voices and that our party should nominate the candidate with the best chance to win,” he added. “I think it is particulalry telling that the group’s chosen choice for governor won’t even list her earliest and most significant backer as an endorsement because of his pending criminal charges.”

The last comment was a direct shot at Gilmore.

Arango responded to the Gaburo letter.

“The NJ Republican Chairmen Association is pleased to be united and strong looking into November building inclusive progressive agendas,” arango said. “Chairman Gaburo is part of the team; his input is always welcome. Now it is important to work hard and support Republicans throughout NJ, to stop taxes, create jobs, protect our elderly, give education choices to our children in urban communities, and create growth in our economy.”

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