The Rizzo Rift


There probably has never been so much fighting over a bill of $1,500.

And the battle is far from over.

The trial between Phil Rizzo and the Morris County Republican Committee was set to resume Monday, but was postponed until Feb. 6 because, according to the court, the plaintiff’s attorney was ill.

This offbeat episode began almost 11 months ago when Rizzo was running for Congress in the 7th District. To that end, he sought the nomination of Morris County Republicans at their March convention. Hoping to entice convention voters, he “bought” a table in the convention hall as a home base of sorts.

The cost was $1,500 and Morris Republicans say Rizzo never paid.

The dispute raged for a few months last spring and with no movement, the county Republican Committee brought the matter to small claims court.

And that’s where it stands.

There already have been a few postponements and even a request from Rizzo for a change of venue. That’s the type of thing that generally occurs in a murder case, not a political dispute.

Rizzo said through his lawyer that he didn’t trust the county judiciary. He figured – presumably – that judges were too close to Morris County Republicans. It is true, of course, that judges need support from the county’s Republican senators to get appointed.

Then again, the judge in this case, David J. Weaver, is from Sussex County.  And after reminding the parties of that last month, he said the trial will stay put in the Morris-Sussex vicinage.

Weaver at the time also gave the impression he wasn’t all that worried about what the parties thought, noting that he’s only a few months from retirement.

Rizzo, who never got the county’s CD-7 endorsement, surfaced on the state’s political scene in 2021 when he ran for governor, getting about 25 percent of the vote in the Republican primary.

You get the impression he may be running again. His Facebook page says “Rizzo for N.J. Governor,” is responsible for its content.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Rizzo is fighting so strenuously over relatively speaking, a rather small expense.

He likes to portray himself as a lonely man fighting corrupt politicians. This means, naturally, the Democrats, but also mainstream Republicans.

What better way to do that than to fight one of New Jersey’s largest Republican committees over a bill?

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