In Tatters, the Bergen GOP Tries to Figure Out a Way Forward Amid DiGaetano Woes


At one point in the meeting of Bergen County Republican players last night, Jack Zisa thought he saw his Al Pacino Any Given Sunday locker room moment and went for it.

It did not go well.

When Zisa rose and attempted to give a “we all have to stick together” address, the council president of Englewood Cliffs slapped him down.

Carrol McMorow took Zisa to task.

Amid widespread discontent with the services of sitting Bergen County GOP Chairman Paul DiGaetano, she’d heard the former Hackensack mayor’s running for chair of the party. But how could Zisa represent anything more but the same? He was a member of Digaetano’s kitchen cabinet? Perception’s reality in politics. The perception is Zisa’s DiGaetano.

Sit down.

She didn’t say it, but she might as well have said it.

It was grim.

At a meeting called by Woodcliff Lakes Mayor Carlos Rendo in part to identify candidates for Bergen County chairman, not even formally Zisa stepped forward to announce what sources say will be his candidacy; although he has a meet and greet scheduled for this evening.

There was some Bob (Yudin not Menendez) bashing, but no one put in a plug for DiGaetano as the overriding theme seemed to be where in the hell do we go from here.

The Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) deadline for letters of intent by prospective countywide candidates is Feb. 1st. Here it is, January 24th, and no one knows who’s running against Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and his fellow incumbent Democratic freeholders.

“Everyone knows the way to do this is to build from the ground up, the way [former Democratic Chairman] Joe Ferriero did – local, local – winning local races and taking four years to do it,” a soruce told InsiderNJ.

But no one seems to have that kind of time right now or commitment, as Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato strides the county in seven league boots.

One thing was clear to the group.

Unaccounted for at the meeting, DiGaetano is toast as chairman.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi was at the meeting.

She derided the leadership of DiGaetano, as she prepares to publicly endorse former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan against DiGaetano’s preferred candidate for the CD5 seat: attorney John McCann. In addition to having to worry about former Speaker Vinny Prieto movements in the LD39 general election, DiGaetano bedeviled her with the threat of a primary as he tried to craft his own doomed run for an LD40 senate seat last year.

“It was a bit of a bitch fest,” a source acknowledged to InsiderNJ, referring to the meeting.

But Rendo, playing host to the third such organizational meetings with another one set for next month, escaped with his gravitas and goodwill intact among injured party members.

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