Races to Watch Episode 1: Democrat Brindle Challenges Veteran GOP Incumbent Skibitsky in Christie-Connected Westfield

Shelley Brindle

As Gov. Chris Christie limps toward the finish line, legs sometimes tangled with the Charlottesville-impaired presidency of Donald J Trump, Democrats gleefully hope to deliver a big, symbolic kiss off in the form of a win in the backyard of some of the Republican Governor’s most loyal allies: Westfield.

A total 20,684 registered voters live in the town, of which 6,485 (31.4% vs. 41.8% countywide) registered as Democrats, 5,244 (25.4% vs. 15.3%) registered as Republicans and 8,942 (43.2% vs. 42.9%) registered unaffiliated, according to 2011 census numbers. But whatever the numbers on paper, the place looks and feels like a Team Christie bullpen, with the likes of state Senator Tom Kean (R-21), Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), Bill Palatucci, Mike DuHaime, and Rich Bagger all claiming residency in the Union County suburban burgh.

It’s tough, probably too tough a nut for Democrats to crack.

But former HBO executive Shelley Brindle, hopes to take advantage of a 15%-hobbled Christie, Trump blowback, and the dynamics of a favored Democratic candidate at the top of the ticket to assist her in deposing three-term incumbent Republican Mayor Andy Skibitsky with a belly-of-the-beast Democratic win.

“When I look around this place I see a place filled with opportunities, but I also see a place that is home to some challenges, caused by years of inaction,” she says in her video introduction.

“We need to create a collaborative and inclusive town government, where every voice matters,” Brindle adds.

She has the attention of Democrats statewide. A source in Hudson County alerted InsiderNJ to her efforts.

However, Republicans push back hard.

“The mayor and town council have done a great job,” said Union County GOP Chairman Glenn Mortimer. “If President Trump ran for mayor, as a Republican or as a Democrat or independent, it’s safe to say he would lose. But this race will be judged on local issues, and the mayor’s record speaks for itself.”

Bramnick serves as the local Republican Party chairman.

“Westfield didn’t become Westfield by accident,” said the veteran Republican leader. “These are all local people [the mayor and his team] who committed to work for a dollar a year. Andy is the model of community service. Why would you change this Republican administration for the sake of change? You move to Westfield for one simple reason: it’s Westfield, one of the best towns in the country. Maintenance of the town has nothing to do with national politics. I didn’t endorse Trump, and neither did Andy. The town’s great – don’t risk that because of national politics.”

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