Against the backdrop of a tough LD40 Republican Primary, Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas challenged the petition signatures of Bergen County GOP Chairman Paul DiGaetano’s freeholder candidates and succeeded in bumping the candidates off the June ballot.
DiGaetano is running for the state senate in an attempt to succeed retiring state Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40). He had hoped a slate of freeholders in the neighboring county would help him in the lone Essex town in the 40th District: O’Toole’s Cedar Grove.
Barlas awarded the GOP line in his county to DiGaetano’s rival for the seat, Passaic County Clerk Kristin Corrado. as part of that alliance, he bounced DiGaetano’s freeholder candidates.
The candidacies of Eugene J. Byrne, Maureen Edelson, Sue Ann Penna, Angel Pollack and Kristen M. Bloschak all perished because the number of qualified signatures they submitted did not meet the petition.
“Once again this is amateur hour,” Barlas said. “You’re the chairman of the Republican Party, you don’t know how to get signatures for a petition? If people don’t realize that this is Paul being all about Paul, they have to get their heads out of the sand.”
An insider observing the ongoing conflagrations of the LD40 Republican Primary marveled at Barlas seeming to rejoice in the role of tenacious guerilla war tactician, in a match-up with the much slower moving and conventional game plan thus far advanced by DiGaetano.
Asked where he sees the senate contest going, Barlas told InsiderNJ, “For Paul? It’s going the direction of his 2005 gubernatorial campaign.”
DiGaetano responded to the chance to comment.
“Our work in Bergen was already done and we sent a couple of volunteers extra over to Essex,” he said. “We got a candidate to run where the Essex organization doesn’t have anyone – in District 5. I couldn’t believe they wanted to leave that open. They’d rather have that slot empty and concede the district to a Democrat than contest it.”