The new Mercer County Republican Chairman is Roy Wesley, who was elected last night. He replaces Cathy Tramontana, who resigned in March. Wesley, a West Windsor businessman whose wife is an aide to State Senator Peter Inverso, was the choice of party leaders over former State Senator Richard LaRossa. Lacking the votes, LaRossa did not continue his candidacy at last night's County Committee meeting.
LaRossa entered the political arena in 1991, when he gave up his job as the New Jersey Lottery's weekend anchor to run an uphill campaign against Democratic State Senator Gerald Stockman in the strongly-Democratic 15th district. But Stockman's support of Jim Florio's tax increases helped LaRossa score an unexpected upset — and hard work helped LaRossa hold the seat in a rematch with Stockman in 1993. But since then, LaRossa has fallen on electoral hard times: he lost a bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 1996 (he finished a weak third behind Richard Zimmer and Richard DuHaime, failing to carry even Mercer County); he was defeated for re-election to the State Senate by Democrat Shirley Turner in 1997 by a 54%-46% margin; and has lost two bids for Mayor of Ewing Township.