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ROCKAWAY TWP. – Few would confuse Morris County with the city of Paterson, but politics can do amazing things.
Andre Sayegh, the mayor of Paterson, told about 100 Morris County Democrats Saturday morning that the city and county are on parallel tracks. Both, he said, have the chance to write great narratives.
What’s he talking about?
The mayor, who was the guest speaker at a county Democratic fundraising brunch, said the city is trying to reinvent itself. Sayegh talked about closing a yawning budget shortfall and of re-branding the city to stress its perhaps overlooked attributes – the Great Falls, a variety of restaurants and a history centered around Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
Morris Dems also have a challenge. But their narrative under this scenario is a more basic one – turn the county “blue.”
That may still be a ways from happening. It is so, so hard to flip county offices like freeholder, sheriff and surrogate, mainly because many voters don’t pay much attention to them.
Chip Robinson, the county’s Democratic chair, focused on state Assembly races coming up this year in Districts 25 and 26. Three of the party’s four Assembly hopefuls were in the room at the Rockaway River Barn restaurant.
He admitted that Democrats already control the Assembly, which can be a practical problem. It was one thing to rouse up your voters and win House seats – as county Democrats did last year – but under-the-radar Assembly seats may be another story.
Robinson tried, noting how right-wing state Legislatures across the country are passing overly-restrictive abortion laws. And he said that is why Democrats can never relax. The math is easy to understand. Grab some traditional Republican seats and it becomes that much harder for the GOP to gain a majority.
Robinson postulated that the Republican Assembly members representing Morris are as right wing as those in many “red” states. While that could be an arguable premise, his point was that electing Democrats to the state Legislature is the only way to stop far right laws from being passed in New Jersey.
He continued this theme when it came to local offices, calling Sheriff James Gannon, who is seeking reelection this year, a “right wing” sheriff.
Robinson also speculated that Gannon is “getting ready to probably run against Mikie Sherrill.”
Sheriffs generally have a following – it’s probably the title. However, Gannon has said he will not run for Congress. In fact. Republicans at this time seem to have no viable candidate against Sherrill in the 11th District.
Not good for the GOP, but not Robinson’s concern.