It's hard to tell whether Rob Ortiz really is the favorite contender for Bergen County GOP Chairman.
Among the 75 or so supporters named on Ortiz’s website are some pretty powerful local Republicans like state Senate nominee Kevin O’Toole, Assemblyman David Russo, Assembly nominee Scott Rumana and former Bergen County Executive Pat Schuber.
But Ortiz’s two opponents for the volunteer post, Bill Thomson and Ben Focarino, won’t divulge who’s supporting their campaigns.
“I have learned over the years endorsements are fickle, and the one thing that I continue to work on is talking to people, saying I need your vote. People will assure me they’re with me, and their vote will be counted in the ballot box. That’s it,” said Thomson. “You look at the list that Rob has and most of those people can’t vote…. It doesn’t mean a lot.”
Ben Focarino said that he has many supporters and is confident of his prospects, but felt that revealing their names could cause political fissures in the future, after the Bergen County Republicans have chosen their new leader.
“No one has come out publicly,” said Focarino. “I’m not asking them to do that. I don’t want them to jeopardize their position. In the event that someone else does win, I want them to be able to work together.”
Focarino touched on a consistent theme of all three candidates’ campaigns. While the occasional sharp elbow comment shows up from time to time among the candidates, they’re making an effort to keep their campaigns as peaceful and positive as possible, providing a stark contrast to the internal squabbles that came to characterize the county party under Guy Talarico’s reign.
“Our exchanges have been extremely positive. We’ve all spoken and no matter who wins we’ve all committed to staying involved and helping revive the organization,” said Ortiz.
The nearly 1,200 members of the Bergen County Republican Committee will meet on June 23 to elect a new County Chairman.