The New Party Chairs in Bergen and Ocean: How are they Doing?

Holman, left, and Juliano

At the risk of finding two new key county chairs impaled on the stress of their new jobs, much like the guide at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, InsiderNJ gingerly gutchecked Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Paul Juliano and Ocean County Republican Committee Chairman Frank Holman to see how they were holding up as they head into their first general eletion contests as chairs of their respective party organizations.

They’re fine, even energized, their longstanding veteran roles within their party oranizations placing them happily within striking distance of Election Day in mostly predicatable outcome counties.

“We’ve been governing well for 175 years,” Holman said of GOP rule in Ocean (136,314 Republicans to 83,906 Democrats). “I’m honored to be the chairman. Ocean County is kind of a firewall for the Republican Party.”

Holman earlier this year took over from fallen Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore. The organization remains healthy and strong, the new chair said. “We’ve got real contests in Brick and Toms River, but I think we’re in good shape in both of them,” Holman said. “It will come down to turn-out and ground game. We can have a clean sweep.”

Governor Phil Murphy galvanizes the base, the chairman added, referring to Murphy’s stances on immigration and taxes. But fundamentally it’s good government that keeps the GOP in good position in Ocean, the chairman argued. “[Former Assemblyman] Jack Ciattarelli was in town, and he pointed out that a lot of people who move to Ocean are not Republicans, but they become Republican because of the way we run the county,” the chairman noted.

What about Gilmore’s absence and the coming 2020 contests?

“Well, in the beginning it was very scary, there was a lot of trepidation, because he was a very successful chairman, but he’s been pretty good about communicating what we need to win,” Holman said. “My job is to mobilize the troops. The president is very strong in Ocean County. Tom MacArthur’s [and now Andy Kim’s 3rd] Congressional district is difficult to run in because the president is not as popular in the Burlington portion of the district. Whoever the candidate is, that person needs to know how to express his or her policies in a way that speaks to both sides of the district.

“I’m excited about it,” he said of the coming elections, startingg with Nov. 5th.

Then there’s Juliano up in Bergen County (214,562 registered Democrats to 125,668 Republicans), the Democratic Party leader who took over from retired BCDC Chairman Lou Stellato.

“We feel very confident,” Juliano told InsiderNJ. “We have three great freeholders and we are optimistic about them being reelected.”

Juliano doesn’t talk about LD39 and LD40 as if his party will kick the doors down in both GOP districts.

But “we feel we can be very competitive there,” the chairman said, as Democrats look to fatten up a super majority in Trenton.

“We feel we have great candidates,” he added.

While Holman sees Murphy as a negative for Democrats, even though he doesn’t feel the need to go out of his way to emphasize it too much, Juliano doesn’t see the Democratic governor as a detriment to his party’s candidates in Bergen.

“I see Governor Murphy as very popular here in Bergen,” said Juliano, who has already expressed his commitment to Murphy’s 2021 reelection.

He noted some local battlegrounds where his party can push the frontier.

“There are a handful of places where Dems can be successful,’ Juliano said. “I believe we are competitive in Wallington, Woodcliff Lake, Dumont and Carlstadt.”

As for next year’s 2020 elections, the chairman doesn’t see U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) having a difficult time.

“I think he’s very popular and I think he has enormous support in every district in every county as well as in Bergen,” the chairman said. “Many of the leaders have expressed support for Congressman Gottheimer.”

Despite U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) continued poor standings in the polls, the Bergen Democratic Committee Chairman insists he isn’t wobbling in his support for Booker’s presidential campaign.

“Our committment to Booker in Bergen is strong,” Juliano said.

Like fellow politics veteran Holman, he said he’s having fun. “I believe in the party and I very much looking forward to making gains and providing good government to people,” the chairman said.

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