Hugin, BCRO, GOP Allies from Around NJ, Set Sights on 2023 Opportunities

Key Republican leaders took stock of the 2022 elections last night at the Bergen County Republican Organization’s (BCRO) Pasta and Politics fundraiser, as they refashion an attack plan for the 2023 legislative election cycle.

Republicans won control of the U.S. House of Representatives this year, but could not grab hold of the U.S. Senate. The net gain of eight Republican seats in the House fell short of expected gains. Many politics watchers anticipated a Republican wave on par with the Democrats’ 1982 performance of 26 gained seats, likening then-President Ronald Reagan’s midterm blues to those of sitting President Joe Biden.

Republican State Party Chairman Bob Hugin acknowledged disappointment. He cited the challenge of Republicans to close the gap with independent voters, 28% of whom identified themselves as galvanized to vote against the specter of former President Donald J. Trump. He noted Democrats’ effectiveness in corralling the message of “women’s rights” in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade. The GOP must to develop an effective messaging counterpunch on this issue, Hugin said.

The state GOP chairman celebrated the CD-7 victory by former state Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr., who ousted incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski. He also rejoiced over Republicans, led by Chairman (and state Senator) Mike Testa, taking charge of Cumberland County. The GOP, Hugin underscored, now ten of 21 New Jersey counties.

Looking ahead, the chairman celebrated the legislative map secured as part of a redistricting compromise, which “We believe is a fairer map,” and puts the GOP in position to record more victories next year.

For his part, host Chairman Jack Zisa underscored the need for Republicans to step up early voting/vote-by-mail efforts. Zisa noted that incumbent Democratic County Executive Jim Tedesco harvested 48K early votes, compared to 18K for GOP challenger Todd Caliguire, who lost by 30K votes.

Decrying the disparity, Zisa vowed “time, energy and money in that direction [early voting].”

Hugin agreed, likewise promising stepped-up “vote-by-mail” dedication.

A panel moderated by InsiderNJ featured 2021 Republican nominee for Governor Jack Ciattarelli, Senate Republican Leader Steve Oroho, Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio, and state Senator Holly Schepisi of Bergen County.

Oroho and DiMaio both emphasized their desire to score legislative majorities. The former needs five wins, and cited 2, 11, 14, 16 and 38 as his targets. DiMaio, overseeing a GOP caucus with a 34-46 disadvantage, sees the same battle lines.

“We need 21 seats,” said Oroho. “When you’re in the majority, you control everything.”

“I understand relationships,” DiMaio added, speaking to the pretty good relations in Trenton between Democratic and Republican leadership. But when D flips to R seats, “You get better relationships,” the leader added.

Assessing the underwhelming 2022 results for her party, Schepisi did point out that she speaks to NJ voters, among them many women, who say they’re done with Republicans until the party can disengage from Donald Trump. For his part, Ciattarelli cited his three percentage point loss last year in a state with a million more Democrats than Republicans (a shocking near win against a powerful Democratic incumbent) and emphasized the GOP’s strength in economic arguments and addressing people’s continuing worries about high property taxes and inflation. Instead of allowing Democrats to distract by nationalizing contests, the NJ GOP must sty focused on New Jersey, Ciattarelli said.

Other leaders in attendance at the event included state Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40), Assemblyman Chris DePhillips, Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-39), Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio, and Essex County GOP Chairman Al Barlas, tapped for a vacant LD-40 Assembly seat.



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