Just one week remains until members of the Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) will decide if current chairman Bob Yudin will remain in his post or if his challenger former Assemblyman Paul DiGaetano will usurp the chairman’s spot. On June 21, members of the organization will gather to vote in the bi-annual reorganization.
With the election so near, PolitickerNJ asked Yudin what he was expecting from the chairman election.
“The reason [DiGaetano] is doing this, and I have said this publicly, is because he wants to run for senate in district 40. I refused in the past to support him so he is running to get the line in district 40 in the senate,” Yudin said.
According to the current chairman, DiGaetano wants to claim the seat currently held by state Republican LD40 Senator Kevin O’Toole after his retirement at the end of his term. However, Yudin has endorsed Passaic County Clerk Kristin Corrado for the job. Yudin also claimed that he was approached by a member of DiGaetano’s team earlier this year and was offered a deal that, if Yudin put DiGaetano on the LD40 line, the former assemblyman would leave the BCRO race and let Yudin run for chairman uncontested.
“Paulie has gone public denying that it happened but it happened,” Yudin said.
According to DiGaetano, Yudin’s remarks are false.
“I am running for Chairman of the BCRO to help get Republicans elected in Bergen County once again,” DiGaetano said. “That means winning elections from the top of the ticket on down, from president to council. I fully support and stand by each and every candidate which the Bergen Republican Committee and Bergen’s Republican voters have selected. Bob Yudin’s obsession with district 40 is nothing more than a desperate attempt to cover up the backroom deals he made to try and preserve his failed leadership.”
While DiGaetano claims he supports “each and every candidate” the BCRO has selected, Yudin has not been quick to support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. While BCRO members selected Trump as the candidate at the county convention and Yudin therefore granted him the party line, the current GOP chairman said he has had yet to back Trump in light of comments made earlier this year about prisoners of war (POWs) being “losers.”
“I have not endorsed Donald Trump for president because of his stance on POWs being losers,” Yudin told PolitickerNJ. “I was a Navy flyer during Vietnam. What I did was I allowed there to be a convention and the county committee people voted for Donald Trump. Because he won the convention, I gave him the first column and the BCRO endorsement. I have also allowed the headquarters to be used by Mr. Trump’s people during the primary during the convention. I have also said that whoever wins the national convention I will then support him because I am the chairman and I will support the nominee. I still wish that Mr. Trump would state that that is not his position toward POWs.”
DiGaetano has been a vocal critic of Yudin after a series of losses over the past few years left the party weakened in Bergen County. Initially, Wyckoff Mayor Kevin Rooney was also critical of Yudin and had entered the BCRO chairman race but he dropped from the race in March and then endorsed Yudin. Rooney is on Corrado’s LD40 ticket as an assembly candidate.
Yudin and DiGaetano have also been at odds over recent allegations from O’Toole that DiGaetano threatened his life in an incident 11 years ago when the former assemblyman was pursuing the Republican nomination for governor. In light of those alleged remarks, Yudin has called upon DiGaetano to leave the BCRO race. As with the claims about his LD40 ambitions, DiGaetano has denied those claims.
The reorganization will be held at BCRO headquarters in Hackensack.