Vice-Chairwoman Tracy DiFrancesco is making calls to run against sitting Somerset GOP Chair Tim Howes, sources tell InsiderNJ.
DiFrancesco is the daughter of former Governor Donald DiFrancesco.
In 2022 Howes’ colleagues gave him a second term as Somerset County Republican chairman.
But it’s been bumpy.
Members of the Somerset County Republican Organization at a special meeting in June passed a resolution expressing “no confidence” in Chairman Howes.
Now, DiFrancesco is following up on division in the ranks, and seeking to hear people concerned about fundraising and filing woes within the organization.
The June vote came ahead of a regularly scheduled meeting.
Asked for comment about tonight’s vote registered by his critics at the time, the Somerset GOP Chairman fought back, calling the special meeting an unsuccessful attempt to embarrass him.
“Had they had the critical mass and the numbers they would have done it at the [regularly scheduled] meeting [on Tuesday], but I don’t think that’s their point. I think they are somewhat punishing me for being too independent.”
Howes said he takes pride in his leadership of the party, and in those members working on its behalf.
“Every day we work hard to move the campaign forward,” he said. “Every day we plan new events. Every day, I wake up and plan how to make this better, despite the detraction.”
According to the bylaws of the organization, 15% of the sitting county committee can call a meeting for any reason. Twenty percent are necessary to conduct business. There are 425 members of the committee. The anti-Howes faction consisting of 108 members tonight voted “no confidence,” revealing – at the very least – a continuing schism in the Somerset GOP.
Members of the organization have not recorded a “no confidence” vote of this kind in 80 years.
That said, the Republican chairman took the helm of the party organization under fractured circumstances, which apparently haven’t healed since Matt Moench upended Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes in a 2019 Republican Primary.
Hayes had the backing of Chairman Al Gaburo.
In 2020, Howes of Peapack and Gladstone submitted his name to serve as Somerset County GOP chairman. Moench supported him.
He succeeded long-serving Gaburo, who put all his chips on Jack Ciattarelli’s 2021 gubernatorial run.
The intraparty pushing and pulling has gone on pretty much unabated – in some fashion anyway – ever since.