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Donohue Elected Chair of Cape May County GOP

By Al Campbell

COURT HOUSE — Michael Donohue was elected Cape May County Republican chairman with one unanimous vote on Tue., June 15 by organization Recording Secretary Diane Wieland.
He believes that’s quite an accomplishment, and the dawn of a new day, given that the vote was taken one week after the most divisive primary elections in recent local GOP history.
Kristine Gabor, an Upper Township committee member, was voted county vice chair at the meeting.
Over 250 committeemen and women from throughout the county convened in the Historic Courthouse on North Main Street at the organization meeting.
In place, to prove that every person’s vote would count, were two voting machines at the courthouse. Aside from Donohue’s name was a place for a second name as well as provision for any write-in votes, he said.
“It was a great moment for the people in Cape May County that we had the voting machines there. Symbolically, it
demonstrated that we will have a more democratic organization going forward,” said Donohue, who twice carried his party’s banner in the Assembly race.
Former county chairman David Von Savage had paved the way for a smooth transition of power when he resigned from the post after organization-backed candidates Ralph Bakley Sr. and John McCann were soundly defeated by independents Gerald Thornton and Susan Sheppard. A barrage of negative allegations against Thornton from the opposing faction had marked the campaign.
Speaking of Gabor, Donohue said she is, “An energetic, smart young woman who has a bright political future. We understand the importance of people with experience, but we are also trying to move in a new direction of Republican leadership, and Kristine is one of those bright new faces.”
As the chair and vice chair election moved forward, no other nominations were made. There was a call from the floor for a vote of acclamation. After that, Wieland cast the single vote on behalf of the organization.
The party also embarked on something not done in the past, said Donohue, it named committees for local, county, state and federal elections.
Each will have specific areas of responsibility, said Donohue, with the intent of involving more grassroots Republicans than ever before, and seeing how the county organization “fits into those elections,” he added.
Plans are being formulated for a convention to take place in the winter of 2011 to move the process forward even further.
“We’re excited about that,” said Donohue.
He termed Von Savage’s resignation, “statesmanship,” that helped break down what otherwise might have been barriers to a smooth transition of power.
“It was inspiring and helped to bring us all together to go into Tuesday night together in Republican unity,” said the Dennis Township resident.
“It was a great way to start, and we intend to keep it together as we move forward,” he said.
After his election, Donohue said he felt like time and days slipped into one.
In short order, he had been in telephone contact with Gov. Chris Christie’s office, as well as the Senate and Assembly offices.
On Thur., June 17, Donohue and Thornton traveled to Trenton. There, Thornton joined other GOP freeholder candidates from around the state to have lunch with the governor at his official residence, Drumthwacket. Sheppard was unable to attend, due to a death in her family.
Contact Campbell at (609) 886-8600 Ext 28 or at: al.c@cmcherald.com

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