Murphy’s comeback bid hits a snag

A coalition led by former Assemblyman Paul DiGaetano to replace Passaic County Republican Chairman Michael Mecca with former GOP Chairman Peter Murphy may face opposition from another candidate, Wayne Mayor Scott Rumana. Mecca, dealing with some serious personal issues, wants out. Murphy, who left as County Chairman in 2001 following a criminal conviction that has since been overturned, has forged an alliance with DiGaetano. Rumana is backed by Essex County Republican Chairman Kevin O’Toole, who represents part of Passaic County in the State Assembly. Former Paterson Mayor (and gubernatorial candidate) Lawrence “Pat” Kramer says he was approaced by Murphy’s supporters with the plan for that would include former Assemblyman Frank Catania as a Co-Chairman, but rejected their offer. Kramer and Catania run a reform GOP group that challenged Mecca’s line in the June 2005 primary. Some Republicans suggest that the fight over control of the weakened Passaic GOP organization is tied to a future battle in the 40th district. O’Toole is anxious to move up to the State Senate (where he served for several months in 2001) if Henry McNamara retires in 2007, and Rumana, a former Passaic County Freeholder, wants to take O’Toole’s Assembly seat. Complicating this deal is speculation that DiGaetano plans to relocate from Nutley to Wayne and is also interested in replacing McNamara in the GOP-safe Bergen/Essex/Passaic district.

Murphy’s comeback bid hits a snag