Four-time Union County Freeholder candidate Patricia Quattrocchi said that she likes her county chairman, Phil Morin. But the party desperately needs a jolt, and she thinks she may be the one who can provide it.
“We need some electricity here in Union County,” said Quattrocchi, who is considering running for Morin’s post in June. Currently, she’s assistant vice-chair of the party.
Next month marks 10 years since the last Republican left the Union County Freeholder Board, and local Republicans find themselves in a situation similar to their Bergen County brethren. They can remember when they dominated in the not-so-distant past, but that control has since given way to a Democratic machine controlled by powerful Democratic boss Charlotte DeFilippo and, amongst some local Republicans, a sense of hopelessness.
Although she’s never won any of her multiple freeholder races, Quattrocchi, said that she came closer this year than ever before, earning about 3,800 votes less than her nearest Democratic opponent. That’s a difference she thinks she could have made up for if she didn’t have to undergo surgery for a skull lesion that took her off the campaign trail in the weeks leading up to the election.
Quattrocchi said that her experience running four times has taught her a lot about how the Democrats operate.
“When you’re running against a machine one of the things you need to do is have knowledge of how the machine works,” she said.
Quattrocchi said that she can’t blame Morin as the cause for the party’s woes, as he inherited it when it was already in bad shape. And her decision on whether or not to run will depend largely on how Morin does with fundraising and candidate recruitment efforts over the next several months.
Former Republican state Senate candidate Daniel Nozza, a chiropractor who’s run for the chairmanship before, is said to be interested in challenging Morin as well, but could not be reached for comment.
Morin, who’s been in office for four years, said that he does not plan to relinquish his seat, and refused to blame his predecessors for the party’s lack of resources.
“No one left me with any debt. To me that was a big thing,” said Morin. “No surprise bills at least.”
Republicans are starting to make progress on a municipal level, he said, noting that they took the mayoral seat and control of Kenilworth and took out two incumbent council members in Cranford — towns that had been trending Democratic since the 90s. Morin also emphasized that Republicans picked up a council seat in the Democratic majority towns of Springfield and Fanwood. And this year’s freeholder race, when Quattrocchi was the highest Republican vote getter, was closer than in previous years.
“I think this year, from a municipal standpoint, was an outstanding year , and I think we supported some very key races and we’re very successful in putting an number of Republicans into office and improving on Republican control in some communities,” said Morin. “I think we can always do better, but we’re definitely headed in the right direction.”
The Union County GOP just recently held a holiday fundraiser that featured potential U.S. Senate candidate Joe Pennacchio and a number of Republicans interested in seeking the congressional seat being vacated by Mike Ferguson.
“We don’t have the funds certainly that the organization that has control of the county does, but I think we do a good job of picking the races to support to get good republicans in office,” said Morin.