PARSIPPANY – T.C. McCourt is talking about how Morris County’s leaders called for “reopening” the state last spring when the pandemic was just a few months old.
“Thank God, we didn’t do that,” said McCourt, one of three Democrats running this year for county commissioner.
The reference to the response last year from what was then the county freeholder board was interesting.
Republicans all over the state probably will campaign this year on the premise that Phil Murphy kept things shut down unnecessarily, thereby hurting small businesses, children and a host of others.
Listen to McCourt and he’s coming from another angle – the shutdown was needed to save lives and pity the Republicans for not grasping the importance of that.
Here in Morris, of course, McCourt and running mates A.J. Oliver and Dina Mikulka should be under no illusion.
No matter what they say about the pandemic, this ain’t going to be easy.
Everyone who cares about this stuff knows that Democrats have won merely one “freeholder” seat in the county’s known history.
The incumbents seeking reelection this year are John Krickus, Stephen Shaw and Deborah Smith.
McCourt did acknowledge Morris’ rich, Republican tradition.
But it’s a bit more than that. By any objective measure, there are no glaring problems in Morris County, or at least none that the county government has any control over. That makes running against the incumbents pretty hard.
Talking to supporters over ice cream Thursday evening in Old Troy Park, the Dems stressed a commitment to shared services and more money for the vo-tech school and the County College of Morris. Few would quibble with that, but on the other hand, these are not galvanizing issues.
As Dems seeking county office in Morris are wont to do, the candidates talked about the need for a more politically, balanced board.
Oliver said he thinks the all-Republican board is stagnated. McCourt said those who question the board are often dismissed.
County government even in the best of situations tends to be obscure, which also makes challenging the status quo a Herculean chore.
The hope for Dems is that politics in Morris has changed. Joe Biden won Morris last year and the county is now represented by two Democrats in Congress, Also, the registration gap has narrowed to 19,000. Not too long ago, it was twice that.
Oliver, perhaps optimistically, also talked about the “energy” among the party’s core supporters.
“I know that you are hungry for victory,” he said.
On this hot night, chocolate chip mint, rocky road and other ice cream treats had to suffice.