Bergen County Republican Chairman Guy Talarico’s April 23rd letter to party leaders:
Bergen County Republicans:
Please allow me to take a moment and communicate to you my position on recent controversies affecting our organization. For the second year in a row there is an attempt to splinter our Republican party to the benefit of the Democrats. This year the controversy concerns who wins the District 40 Senate seat and the potential impact on District 39. A political news letter recently wrote, “The stakes are high for the Bergen GOP. If Cardinale were to lose — and if Essex County Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole wins the 40th district Senate seat — Bergen would be without a Republican in the State Senate for the first time in forty years”. This would be a disaster for Bergen County.
Prior to the last state-wide redistricting, Bergen County had four Republican State Senators. We currently have two! If Bergen County surrenders this Senate seat to Essex County, the largest county in the state would be reduced to one Senator. Furthermore this situation could jeopardize Senator Gerry Cardinale. Democratic Chair Joe Ferriero has promised to spend millions of dollars to defeat State Senator Cardinale. Such a defeat will mean the Democrats possess total control of “senatorial courtesy” in Bergen County. This will mean no Republican appointments in Bergen County and greater future difficulties for Bergen County Republicans to reclaim municipal, county and state offices in the future.
Just to highlight the power of senatorial courtesy I would like to bring your attention to a recent article in the Bergen Record about the appointment of judges. The article referred to senatorial courtesy and stated “Judicial candidates go through a series of screening procedures before the state Senate gets to approve or reject them. Local senators hold the key to two phases of that process. For one thing, senators very often are the ones who nominate them at the outset. Later no candidate’s nomination can be presented to the full Senate until it is approved by his or her local Senator. The process known as “senatorial courtesy” grants them the power to veto a candidate without giving a reason.“
The morning after Senator McNamara’s decision not to run, Kevin O’Toole who is the Chairman of Essex County Republican Organization and Scott Rumano, who is the Chairman of the Passaic County Republican Organization published a press release announcing their candidacy for office. They autonomously staked a claim to these seats. Many people refer to “prior inside deals” and suggest that they are somehow “entitled” to these positions as a result of these “deals”. Senator McNamara has vehemently denied the existence of any deals and has refused to endorse their candidacy. Even David Russo recently publicly and emphatically exclaimed that there were no such deals. Regardless, these “inside deals” are immaterial; we should not be like our Democrat counterparts. Many people have said that a conversation with the Bergen County Chairman prior to their announcement about candidates in Bergen would have been the appropriate course of action. Needless to say, I was never approached by the other Chairman and have once again been confronted with difficult decisions not of my own making.
However the choice for me is clear, whether you support me or not. I am attempting to protect the Bergen County Organization’s line, as well as the interest of all Republicans in Bergen County. We cannot have the Essex County Chairman representing us in Trenton. We will be better served by Todd Caliguire, a Ridgewood native, who will have Bergen County’s interest at heart far better than would Essex County’s Kevin O’Toole.
How can we support what O’Toole and his cronies are doing to the party right now such as putting forth opposition slates for county tickets and numerous municipal seats forcing Republican organizations to spend time and money they can little afford on internal battles? Even the County Clerk has joined their forces. Our freeholder candidates, chosen by you, the County Committee, were outraged to learn on Friday, April 20th, that Kathe Donovan rejected their petition for a slate to run with the municipal and state candidates who requested to be bracketed with the BCRO under our slogan “Republicans for Responsible Government”. We are preparing a law suit now to fight her arbitrary and capricious decision and Bob Yudin said it best when he said that “Kathe is favoring the O’Toole slate because Caliguire defeated her last year in the primary for County executive. The form we filed is a Request For Position On Ballot. I have a copy of what we filed last year and it is the same form.” Once again, Kathe has chosen to attempt to undermine the interest of the BCRO.
The attacks seem to be coming from many directions but they are really just coming from Essex County with the ultimate winners the Democrats. Trust me, I recently learned a lesson about people with a contrary agenda, the hard way. I brought in Joe Caruso, a Passaic County resident, and Chairman of the Red Faction to help us with the Finance Committee. Every time we worked together on an activity it was only about the Red Faction, not the BCRO. When it came time for him to pick between the interests of Bergen County or other Counties and his Red Faction he did not choose Bergen, even condemning me for supporting Bergen. He endorsed the Chairman of Passaic County and the Chairman of Essex County.
I have recently formed a new finance committee, Chaired by a Bergen County resident who is also a Councilman in Cresskill, John McCann. Joining John are Mike Friscia,Councilman from Franklin Lakes; Robert Auth,Municipal Chairman from Old Tappan; Tom Flynn,Deputy Chairman BCRO; Robert Hermansen,Councilman from Mahwah; Greg Mueller,Former Municipal Chairman from Tenafly; and Vince Micco, Former candidate for Congress. They have already begun to reorganize our fund raising activities.
Joe Ferriero and the Bergen Democrats have proclaimed their intent to control all the State Senate seats in Bergen County. Kevin O’Toole and his cronies are helping him achieve that goal. In this light our decision moving forward must be made with the preservation of the Republican Party in Bergen County as our paramount concern.
Guy F. Talarico