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Primaries often are viewed as family fights, given the fact candidates belong to the same political party.
Parsippany Republicans are doing one better than that. They have a real family fight on their hands. Two brothers, Paul Carifi Jr. and James Carifi, are seeking municipal council nominations in the June 4 primary.
Paul Carifi is running on a slate with fellow incumbents Michael dePierro and Loretta Gragnani under the slogan, Regular Republican Organization, according to the filings.
James Carifi is running under the slogan, Regular Republican.
Three nominations are available so it is certainly possible for both Carifi brothers to win. But they are running on different slates, even if James Carifi has a slate of one.
“Total madness” is how one GOP source sized up what’s happening.
Whether the politics of the day is upsetting family brotherhood is hard to say. Neither Carifi responded to requests for comment.
Family dynamics aside, a larger concern here is political unity.
Parsippany Republicans long have fought among themselves. Over the years, this resulted in the election of such Democratic mayors as Mimi Letts and Michael Luther, but the GOP always held council seats.
That changed in 2017 when Democrats won not only the race for mayor, but two council seats as well. And last year, Democratic congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill easily carried Parsippany.
Is this an anomaly or a trend? This year may help answer that question.
The risk for Republicans is that they are defending the three council seats they now hold. Democrats need to win only one to take control of the council.
In fact, Paul Carifi was not always politically aligned with dePierro. But sources say there was pressure among active Republicans to get together in the face of a stronger challenge from the other side.
But I also asked Christie what Morris Republicans need to do to get back on track after losing two congressional seats last year, an unimaginable occurrence just five years ago. It was a brief conversation while the former governor was walking to his car, but Christie said Republicans in the county must stop fighting among themselves and realize Democrats are a greater foe than personality conflicts with fellow Republicans.
Another curious aspect about the candidacy of James Carifi, a former township police officer, is that over the last eight years, he has filed three lawsuits against the township alleging misdeeds by various township officials.
Now he wants to join the body running the town he’s been suing.
It seems hard to be a defendant and a plaintiff at the same time – even in New Jersey.