(Wyckoff, NJ ) Bergen County Republican Party Organization (BCRO) Chairman Paul DiGaetano’s  plan to throw open the nominating process for the District 40 legislators to the entire BCRO in a county-wide convention represents a startling departure from past practices in determining who represents the Republican Party. It undermines the District 40 Republican County Committee and sets a bad precedent for the BCRO, according the District 40 legislative ticket of Kristin Corrado, Kevin J. Rooney and Christopher DePhillips.

In a Sunday email blast to the BCRO, DiGaetano says that all 1,100 members of the organization’s county committee from 70 towns will vote on March 23 to determine who will represent just seven municipalities in northwest Bergen. The chairman has yet to clearly spell out what he will do in District 39, where Sen. Gerald Cardinale easily defeated DiGaetano’s candidate John McCaan on Saturday in a District 39 convention. It is unclear at this point if DiGaetano will recognize the District 39 convention results; but he belittled what he called “mini-conventions” in his weekend email blast.

 DiGaetano writes in his email to the BCRO that:  “the June primary allows all Party Members to choose the best Republican candidates for the November general election”

Applying that same logic, say the District 40 candidates Corrado, Rooney and DePhillips – then the candidate selection process should mirror the Primary.

“In a Primary or General election only those people who live in a particular legislative district, county or municipality can vote for the candidates running for office to represent them,” says DePhillips, an attorney who cited state law NJSA 19:27-11.1 which states that candidates shall be nominated in accordance with the same rules that govern Primary and General Elections.

“What the BCRO chairman is trying to do is allow people who live outside District 40 — who would not be permitted to vote in the District 40 Primary or the General Election —  to determine who will occupy the Republican Party line in the District 40 Primary Election. That’s like having people from Warren County vote in a Bergen County freeholder race,” added DePhillips.


Rooney said there is no historical precedent for having the entire BCRO county committee select candidates for a particular legislative district or municipality.  He said previous District 39 conventions have been used by the BCRO to determine candidates, candidate selection in a contested race for the District 38 legislative seats was decided by a vote of ONLY the District 38 county committee representatives. Rooney cited his own election last November to fill the Assembly seat vacated by Scott Rumana, in which he participated in an election that was open to only the District 40 County Committee members from four counties. 

“The chairman has refused to even consider our proposal for a District 40 convention in Bergen County because he will lose in such a convention, instead he attempts to contort himself like a pretzel to support his claim that 63 towns should tell the 7 in District 40 who their candidates are,” says Rooney. 

“His latest email blast attempts to make a case against what he terms ‘mini-conventions’ while trying to make a convoluted argument for a 70  town convention for representatives of just seven municipalities. There is no logic to support his blatant attempt to manipulate the selection process to favor his goal of becoming the senate nominee for District 40.”  


The Corrado-Rooney-DePhillips ticket says DiGaetano is sending a message to the people elected to the county committee in District 40 that they are irrelevant to the process of choosing who represents the district they live in.

“I’m sure the county committee people living in other districts do not want county committee people living in Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff or Ridgewood voting on who represents them in the legislature,” says Rooney.

The Corrado team says DiGaetano is setting a bad precedent for all future legislative elections in Bergen County that opens up the selection process to a vote for people with no vested interest in the outcome of the election.

“Kevin, Chris, and I got in this race to bring fresh faces and new ideas to Trenton – not spend our time on ever-changing rules for nomination. Chairman DiGaetano said he was going to remove himself from the selection process since he’s a candidate – we are all still waiting for that to happen,” says Corrado.

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