The Republican Primary Process


How you play the game does matter

Why can’t Republicans have a totally open primary process?

I have been receiving emails and phone calls from Republican committee people and municipal chairs about the pressure applied on them to short-circuit the nominating process and support former US Attorney Chris Christie without discussion or debate.

Sorry folks, this is just plain wrong no matter what your party.A few examples: Union County had its convention, but spent a good part of the run-up to it trying to disqualify party workers and those interested in becoming party workers from actively taking part in the nominating process. A Mercer Co. municipal chair was told that it would be in their best political interest to “support Chris Christie.” Now that is just not the way to build and unify a party. These are only a couple of a number of examples of which I am aware.

Party leaders should strictly adhere to a doctrine of fairness and transparency in the way they conduct the nominating process. The reason the outcomes of sporting events are rarely disputed is due to the establishment and respect for a body of rules. The rules aren’t messed with each game to give the advantage to one team or another. Not everyone goes home from the game happy, but usually they go home assured that the results weren’t fixed.

After the stunning defeat of its most powerful legislators in 2003, the following year a palace coup was staged to wrest control of the Monmouth County GOP from a long timeestablishment boss. This new group promised reforms, including the creation of an above board screening process and a county nominating convention. These reforms helped to move the Monmouth County GOP away from a recent history of ethical lapses and political corruption.

This year, the Monmouth GOP did away with its convention – the number one reform it had embraced in the aftermath of the scandals of just a few short years ago. In all fairness, the County Chairman did convene a screening committee, but then didn’t allow a roll call vote, opting instead to award the gubernatorial line to Chris Christie directly.

Ultimately, this is a return to the same politics that had been in place prior to the reforms of 2005; one person controlling everything.The great irony here is that the reforms that were initiated were a reaction to Chris Christie, United States Attorney, while the undoing of those reforms are on behalf of Chris Christie, candidate for Governor. This is contradiction and irony, not progress.

If party leaders are interested in uniting the party after a primary, the place to start is with the rules that govern the nominating process in each county committee. In this way, most will be satisfied that it was a fair game. And there’s another irony here. Some of the same party leaders, who fought to keep those who wanted to get involved, out of the process,will soon be bemoaning voter apathy. Well, who will be responsible for that situation?

The anointing of Chris Christie as the GOP establishment’s candidate is yet another irony. Not too long ago, he exasperated party establishment types in his home County of Morris, challenging an incumbent Republican Freeholders and an incumbent Republican Assemblyman.

In 1993, Christie also attempted to challenge incumbent State Senator John Dorsey in a Republican primary. After he was knocked off the ballot for not having enough signatures, he sought the nomination of Morris County Democrats for state senate against Republican Dorsey. Here’s something to ponder: If the Dems had given Chris Christie the State Senate nomination in 1993, and he had been elected instead of Gordon MacInnes, where would he be today?One of the reasons for a transparent primary process is that more people will be motivated to get involved if they have the opportunity to ask the candidates questions and have their questions answered. How can that occur when the process is closed?

This mess is not of Chris Christie’s making. The mess belongs to the Republican Party and unless the GOP starts wising up and opening up the process; they will end up with a candidate with great press clippings, but who does not have the support of the Republican base.

Without that base, much of which is in the process of being shut out, winning a general election will be extremely difficult. Mark my words. Liberals will return to their base. President Obama will campaign in New Jersey for Governor Corzine.

Republicans have several promising candidates for Governor this year. Governor Corzine’s favorability numbers are in the basement. Party leaders should take great care to respect each of them and the supporters they bring with them. No disrespect intended, but stacking the deck in a primary does not guarantee winning the general. Just askDick Zimmer. . The Republican Primary Process