Only the tough survive in politics and the best way to get tough is to raise your own money and battle through a nasty primary.
That’s the bottom line of a message today from Morris County Republican David Scapicchio, who has emerged as a vocal opponent of a proposal to create a “county line.”
The county’s Republican Committee plans to vote Saturday on departing from tradition and giving the committee the authority to endorse candidates in primaries, which generally ensures they’re going to win. Up to now, Morris Republicans have had “open primaries,” meaning that ballot position is by chance and the county organization makes no formal endorsement.
Laura Ali, the county chair, says a “line” would allow the committee to pick the best candidates. She says that’s key to GOP success in a more competitive political environment.
Not so, says Scapicchio, a one-time “freeholder.” They’re now called “commissioners.”
Scapicchio, who emerged on the county’s political scene more than 30 years ago fighting construction of a trash depot in Mount Olive, offered a personal story.
“I had to face tough opponents in two Republican primaries to win here in Mount Olive, and that made our team stronger against Democrats who are always competitive. I won a primary for Freeholder as a challenger because no party line gave me a shot, and I lost as an incumbent when the line probably would have guaranteed my reelection. The system has worked … .”
His point was that candidates who run hard in primaries by going door-to-door, raising campaign cash, and in the case of countywide office, traveling from town-to-town are far better equipped for the fall election.
“Perhaps if our congressional nominees against (Mikie) Sherrill and (Tom) Malinowski had also faced competitive primaries they might have won,” Scapicchio speculated.
Democratic wins in House Districts 11 and 7 are prime examples of a more competitive county.
While there were no Republican primaries this year for those seats, there was a highly-contested GOP primary in 2018 for the right to challenge Sherrill in a district Rodney P. Frelinghuysen was vacating. Jay Webber won that primary, but lost the general election.