Despite a contentious 2014 election that knocked incumbent Republican Kathleen Donovan out of her County Executive seat, Bergen County Republicans are claiming the party is more unified than ever heading into the November 2015 election.
Last year, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino—a Republican—briefly supported Donovan’s Democratic challenger, James Tedesco, in the race for County Executive due to disagreements with Donovan about unions and county spending. Though Saudino backed off his endorsement of Tedesco, the challenger won, leaving some wondering if the party was struggling to remain unified.
“I think that whatever may have historically gone on is, at this point, water under the bridge,” Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) told PolitickerNJ. “I haven’t heard or seen anything to identify any kind of fracture in the party.”
According to Schepisi, any kind of division in the party has been erased and that the three candidates—Daisy Ortiz-Berger, John Mitchell and Ken Tyberczy—have full support amongst all Bergen County Republicans.
“I think you saw in last year’s election there was a concerted effort that may have negatively impacted things,” she said. “Overall this year I don’t think you have that same driving force. This year, with these candidates, we have the potential to really win things back in Bergen County.”
Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39) agrees.
“We had a disagreement on an issue between our County Executive and the rest of the party but that issue is resolved,” he said. “The issue was about consolidation. It was a no brainer for most Republicans to streamline and not duplicate service. We need to do what is right for Republicans and taxpayers. Now, we are moving in that direction.”
For Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin, some minor disagreements do exist in the Republican Party, but he says that is just a normal aspect of how government works.
“There are some differences on some policies, but that is the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats; they are simply lockstep follow the chairman,” he said. “As chairman I don’t try and tell my freeholders how to vote. The voters elected them so it is their choice to vote with their conscious.”
While Yudin does acknowledge differences, he says that the party is “more unified than it has ever been” in Bergen County heading into November.
Kathleen Donovan was contacted but declined to comment.