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Twelve County GOP Officials Call for Changes in Party Endorsement

 

By Al Campbell

COURT HOUSE — Twelve Cape May County Republicans leaders, including Freeholder Gerald Thornton, not endorsed by his party for one of two open seats on the board, but running in the June 8 primary, have called for changes in the organization and its method of candidate endorsements.
The group has also demanded the current endorsement of Freeholder Ralph Bakley Sr. and John McCann be deemed “null and void” and all candidates’ names be placed on the ballot at an open primary to be decided by all Republicans of Cape May County.
If those demands are not met, the group vows to seek a change in party leadership at the June reorganization.
“On behalf of ourselves and the many others who are legimately too afraid of reprisal to append their names,” a “Declaration of Concerned Republicans for Reform of the Cape May County Regular Republican Organization,” was signed by Thornton, Avalon Mayor Martin Paglliughi and Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters, North Wildwood Council President Patrick Rosenello, Avalon Council President Charles P. Covington, Middle Township Committeeman Daniel Lockwood, Dennis Township Municipal Leader Michael Donohue, Middle Township Republican Anthony L. Anzelone and Assistant Middle Township Leader Joe Fulford, and Avalon Councilmen David B. Ellenberg, Joseph V. Tipping and Richard Dean was sent to county Republican Chairman David Von Savage on Thursday, April 8.
“For over a decade, the loyal Republicans and members of the Cape May County Regular Republican Organization, as constituted under Chairman David Von Savage, have endured many challenges and fought for reform. We have attempted to work within the structure of the Organization to bring about changes to reinvigorate the Party. We remain committed to doing so,” the document states.
The group’s “concerns and our intention to address them” include:
• The Chairman has allowed three men to create a division of the Organization from a one man committee that has been used to undermine the preference vote process.
• In this current election cycle, we have seen the systematic use of the CMCRRO to remove a loyal and hardworking Republican Freeholder (Gerald Thornton) from office without justification.
• In spite of repeated requests from members of the leadership of the CMCRRO for the Chairman to require New Direction for New Jersey to withdraw its official endorsement of Freeholder candidates, the Chairman refused to do so and the members of this division of the Organization ignored the request.
• The members of New Direction for New Jersey (Norris Clark, Matthew Buesing and Brendan Sciarra) have been allowed to speak on behalf of the CMCRRO through press releases and a Web site ordered and paid for by the Cape May County Regular Republican Organization.
• This overt use of the CMCRRO as a tool to advance the narrow political agenda of New Direction has damaged the integrity of the preference process, the Organization and the Republican Party in Cape May County.
• The preference vote of two of the largest communities in the County should have been the subject of a re-vote after committee people in those communities were inaccurately led to believe that the Congressman (Frank LoBiondo) had made an endorsement of particular Freeholder candidates (John McCann and Ralph Bakley Sr.).
• The Chairman, contrary to established legal procedure, appointed county committee members during the recent preference process, exacerbating the appearance of impropriety in the biased use of the Organization.
• The fact that if only 19 committee people had voted differently, the preference vote would have had a different result, serves as a vote of “No Confidence.”
It is not only the current illegitimate selection process that forms the basis of these grievances.
• The current leadership has not cultivated the Republican base in order to grow the Party and has actively sidelined promising leaders in favor of tight and limited central control of the Organization.
• In recent years we have seen the loss of the State Senate seat, both State Assembly seats; Mayor’s seats in Ocean City, Lower Township and Wildwood and other local government seats.
• On several notable occasions in local elections and legislative elections, inaction on the part of the Organization has worked to the detriment of Republican candidates.
We are left with no choice but to demand, from within, the following immediate measures to restore the integrity of our Organization; the political process and the Republican Party in Cape May County:
• That the current endorsement of certain individuals for County Freeholder be declared null and void and that all candidates’ names he placed on the ballot at an open primary to be decided by all Republicans of Cape May County.
• That the By-Laws of the organization be immediately amended as follows:
• All selections of candidates where there are more letters of intent then openings for office shall be the subject of a vote of all the committee people at a convention through a secret ballot and accountable process.
• No division, arm, subsidiary or other portion of the CMCRRO may make any statement or endorsement on behalf of the Organization or with any reference to the Organization or any division, arm, subsidiary or other portion of the Organization without the approval by vote of the Executive Committee of the Organization;
• No candidates endorsed by the Organization shall include a Committee on Vacancies in their petition for any election, but instead shall leave the question of a replacement candidate in the event of a vacancy before the election to a vote of all the county committee people at a convention through a secret ballot and accountable process.
That the election of the Chairman of the Organization at the bi-annual reorganization of the CMCRRO be conducted by a vote of all the county committee people at one location on a date certain through a secret ballot and accountable process, ballots to be counted in front of the committee members and subject to inspection.
We declare, that if these demands are simply disregarded and added to the long list of ignored petitions for redress, we will appeal directly to the members of the Cape May County Republican Committee and seek a change in leadership at the reorganization of the CMCRRO in June 2010.
With full knowledge of our actions and the consequences thereof, and with a sincere desire to return the Cape May County Regular Republican Organization to competent leadership intent on building and growing the Organization as a part of the Republican Party, we have appended our names to this Declaration with the solemn oath that we will commit ourselves to this cause until acceptable changes which eliminate the complaints raised hereinabove are realized.
Contact Campbell at (609) 886-8600 Ext 28 or at: al.c@cmcherald.com

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