Following his stunning loss Tuesday night, Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino acknowledged today he could have campaigned harder in his re-election bid and might have benefited from altering his campaign strategy. But he said the main reason he failed to win re-election was his position on the ballot –fourth down out of four candidates competing for three seats.
He and running mates Freeholder Douglas Cabana and Freeholder Jack Schrier put out a single mailing round and decided against lawn signs for the primary.
“We raised the money that we needed,” said Inglesino, “but we were mostly saving those resources for the fall because we felt we were going to have a challenge from the Democrats. We probably could have done more, certainly.”
In the end it was what voters faced when the curtain closed behind them, and Inglesino said some people told him they punched his name on the ballot and the name “wouldn’t light up.”
The problem was they had already voted for Murray on their way down the single column of candidates – unwittingly, in Inglesino’s estimation.
Morris County Republican Chairman John Sette said when he ran as a Freeholder in 1988 and 1991 his name was literally bracketed with his running mates.
“There were little hooks around those names to indicate we were running together,” Sette said. “The reality is whoever the fourth person was on that ballot this time, was going to lose.”
County Clerk Joan Bramhall said the clerk’s office does not now make that specific indication on the ballot.
Facing a man who came in ninth out of nine candidates in his losing Freeholder bid last year and endorsed by the county’s GOP mayors, Inglesino and his running mates had no reason to believe ballot position would be a factor.
“But the reality is whoever the fourth person was on that ballot this time, was going to lose,” said Sette, who also suggested that winner James Murray’s New Jersey Right to Life endorsement boosted his candidacy. “Right to Life was working very hard here for (Legislative candidates) Guy Gregg and Jay Webber,” said the party chairman.
“We believed, naively, that people knew who we were and what we were about,” Inglesino said. “There were no real issues. Nothing in the papers about the race. Morris County is not like other counties. We’ve cut the tax rate continuously. I have been active in a shared service initiative and I’m disappointed I will not see some of those efforts through to their initiative.”
Morris County Republican insiders say Inglesino, who was due in the coming year to be Freeholder director, will be back.