Former Assembly Majority Leader Paul DiGaetano is expected to drop his bid for Republican State Chairman, and is mulling opportunities to team up with one of the remaining candidates according to sources close the negotiations. Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore has reportedly offered DiGaetano a new position — Co-Chairman — if he would back incumbent Tom Wilson for the post.
Wilson has the most committed votes at this point, sources say, but is not yet at the 50% mark. DiGaetano was reportedly running third, behind former Morris Township Mayor Peter Mancuso. Mancuso has also made overtures to DiGaetano.
One insider suggests that a DiGaetano endorsement of one candidate could push two Republican County Chairmen toward the other contender: DiGaetano played an active role in Todd Caliguire's campaign for State Senate in Tuesday's GOP primary, and was aware of a controversial mailing that linked Kevin O'Toole, the Essex County GOP Chairman, to the Rev. Al Sharpton. O'Toole's running mate was Wayne Mayor Scott Rumana, the Passaic County GOP Chairman.
O'Toole and Rumana do not have votes in the election for State Chairman, which will be decided by the 42 elected Republican State Committee members.
DiGaetano spent sixteen years in the State Assembly before running for Governor in 2005. He is a close ally of Bergen County GOP Chairman Guy Talarico, who resigned this week following Caliguire's primary loss.