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FAIR LAWN – Bob Hugin talked about how great it was to have pizza and beer on a Monday night.
Sure, it was one of those throwaway lines, but it also made the point that a Monday night in July is not the best time for a political fundraiser.
No matter. Bergen County Republicans and some from outside the county – namely Hugin, last year’s GOP Senate candidate – packed the back room of the Railyard Tavern to hype the Assembly candidacies of Mike Kazimir and Chris DiPiazza.
They’re running in the 38th District against Democratic incumbents Chris Tully and Lisa Swain. The district covers central Bergen and one town, Hawthorne, in Passaic County.
Due to recent changes in district representation – office holders getting other jobs or leaving – the incumbents are probably not household names, even for political junkies. That gives the GOP duo
hope, but still, this district like the county itself has been tilting Democratic of late.
Hugin saw help coming from afar – like Washington.
He said Democrats are “opening the doors for us” by advocating policies that threaten to “destroy this country.” Hugin wasn’t specific, but since this was a partisan crowd, he didn’t need to be.
He said for the state GOP, “This is a new day, a new opportunity in New Jersey.”
The candidates themselves both hold local office; Kazimir is mayor of Rochelle Park and DiPiazza is a councilman in Paramus.
The meat of their campaign literature so far is not all that exciting.
It talks about cutting red tape, revising school funding and controlling government spending. These aims are standard for any Republican in New Jersey.
But on the bottom of their handout is the real message, It says simply, “Stop Radical Phil Murphy.”
Clearly, Republicans are convinced they can grab the coveted political middle – where most elections are won – by portraying the governor as a radical leftist.
One obvious hindrance to that plan is the fact Legislative Democrats themselves have stopped some key parts of the Murphy agenda, including the millionaire’s tax and legalizing pot.
Still, the candidates said they already have knocked on about 2,000 doors and that their anti-Murphy message is being well received. Of course, no candidates ever say their message is not being well
Amid the good feeling these events generate, one speaker admitted Republicans in general have to do a better job attracting millennials. That’s a problem not limited to Bergen County or New Jersey. Obviously hoping to combat that, two of the three Bergen Republicans running for freeholder this year are in their twenties.
One of the questions about this election is who is going to vote. Turnout figures to be pretty awful.
Democrats in New Jersey were helped last year by many voters who wanted to send a “message” to the president. That’s why New Jersey now has only one Republican member of Congress.
One of those in the crowd, Assemblyman Robert Auth, who is from the adjacent 39th District, said he thinks this year will be different. He reasons the anti-Trump crowd won’t be as enthused this year and that many bothering to vote in an off-year election will be looking to send Murphy a message.