Zero Hour CD11 Republicans Convene on Andes Event in Pursuit of Support

DENVILLE – The night was officially about the reelection campaign of Mayor Tom Andes.

The mayor is not running until next year, but hey, everyone wants to be prepared. Still, of more interest to the 100 or so local Republicans showing up for the mayor’s Tuesday night campaign kickoff at the St. Francis residential center was next week’s congressional primary.

The three main Republican candidates were there – spaced out in different corners of the room. Jay Webber, Antony Ghee and Peter DeNeufville didn’t really interact that much with each other, but each worked the room talking to people who are probably certain to vote.

That fact can’t be overstated.

Some Republicans at the gathering said they expected a low turnout, noting that absentee ballot applications are down and a dearth of campaign signs on homes around Morris County.

Really? A low turnout?

While no one should ever be surprised at voter apathy in the United States, logic would suggest that turnout should be better than usual.

How often do party voters get a chance to select a new candidate for Congress?  If you’re wondering, this is the first time in 22 years that a new face will represent District 11 in the House of Representatives. Why would a registered Republican not want to take part in choosing the GOP candidate?

Leaving ruminations about turnout outside, it is clear that voters paying attention are beginning to see a race that’s about to become a bit nasty.

A week or so ago, DeNeufville charged that Webber’s views and voting record – for example, his opposition to equal pay for equal work – were just too whacky to appeal to voters this fall.

Webber has returned fire in a big way.

His latest mailing paints DeNeufville, a Mendham businessman, as somewhat to the left of Leon Trotsky. OK, we’re exaggerating, but not by all that much.

It says that DeNeufville backs an “ultra-liberal” activist group that promotes “radical and violent left-wing protests.” Like what?

The piece cites “riots in Ferguson, Missouri, socialist and communist demonstrations and eco-anarchists.”

That’s a lot to chew on, even allowing for the hyperbole common in campaign literature.

The justification for the attack is a $20,000 contribution the candidate’s foundation made to the Tides Foundation.

The Tides Foundation was founded in 1976 in San Francisco, a heathen locale to many on the right. Its website says the foundation supports a world of shared prosperity and social justice founded on equality, human rights, a sustainable environment and quality education. Over the years, the foundation has been condemned by many on the right for supporting left wing initiatives.

Clearly, Webber is doing all he can to show primary voters he is the most conservative candidate in the race. It could be a risky maneuver.

Hard-right positions may win the primary, but how are they going to do in the “real” race this November?

Webber’s attack on DeNeufville is based on his family’s foundation – the Roxiticus Foundation c/o DeNeufville & Company.

Records list a $15,000 donation to the Tides Foundation in 2015 and a $5,000 donation the next year.

DeNeufville’s family foundation has surfaced before. That’s when Webber criticized his opponent for the foundation’s $15,000 donation in 2016 to Planned Parenthood.

DeNeufville at the time said the donation was not his, but the family’s foundation. And he said he opposes federal funding to abortion.

Asked about Webber’s latest piece as he made the rounds Tuesday night, DeNeufville said, “He keeps on saying things that are in-accurate.”

The problem for DeNeufville is that by any political calculus, the Tides Foundation and Planned Parenthood are not groups normally backed by today’s Republican Party. He can argue it was the foundation that made the donation, not him personally. But records list Peter DeNeufville as the foundation’s vice president.

Webber by the way is not forgetting about Ghee, the candidate with organization support in Essex and Passaic counties.

Webber’s piece claims Ghee didn’t become a Republican until just before announcing his candidacy and that he supported Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for president.

There is no new ground here, but for Webber, the ground is a bit shaky.

It is true that Ghee did not become a Republican until recently, but how does Webber – or anyone for that matter – truly know who Ghee supported in the past?

Ghee has not disclosed his presidential votes, but he says Webber’s contention that the new Republican voted twice for Obama and once for Clinton is wrong.

On Tuesday, Ghee said of Webber, “He’s lying about it, that’s the bottom line.”

The real bottom line, if you will, arrives on Tuesday.

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