Bergen County Republican freeholder candidate Chris Calabrese said today that recent setbacks in his campaign will not stop him from running.
“I’m going to fight to the end,” he said.
Calabrese lost the Bergen County Republican Organization’s Policy Committee endorsement on Monday to Paramus Republican activist John Driscoll and Mahwah Councilman Robert Hermansen, who also beat him in a non-binding vote at last weekend’s Northeast Republican Organization convention (NERO).
The tide started to turn against Calabrese, who started off this internal race as the frontrunner because he was the top vote-getting Republican freeholder candidate last year, after a flyer he sent to county committee members backfired, galvanizing influential party activist Ed Trawinski, a Fair Lawn councilman to work against him.
Calabrese, however, said that he was just trying to remind party insiders of how close he came last time around.
“All I wanted to show is I’m the proven vote getter. I did very well last year, came within 2%, and I want to finish what I started,” he said.
While the policy committee vote puts Driscoll and Hermansen at a distinct advantage, it does not always predict the outcome of the full county committee convention, which will be held at BCRO headquarters in Hackensack next Thursday night. Calabrese did not win the policy committee’s endorsement last year either, but he did win the convention.
“I’m just going to work hard and reach out to people,” said Calabrese.
Calabrese also faced criticism for not showing up to the NERO convention. He said today that he did not blow it off, but was aware that it was scheduled.
“I just never got notification, and I told everyone that. I would have loved to be there,” he said.
Calabrese said that he will work hardest to round up votes from county committee members from southern Bergen County towns. Although he lives in Upper Saddle River, his base of support is in the south, where he works as a realtor.
Also running is Wyckoff resident Sabaudin “Sab” Skenderi, who has not attracted significant support.
Driscoll and Hermansen both say that they are running individual campaigns, although many party members assume the two are working together.
“As of now, wherever I’ve been, wherever I have gone, John Driscoll has been there also,” said Hermansen. “One of the things that starts to happen, is when the two of you start to be seen together and nobody else is there with you, people start to say ‘Are you guys running together?’… This is not a shot at Chris, and I don’t want to make it sound that way. I know from what he has said is that he did a lot of this last year.”
Driscoll, who ran unsuccessfully for assembly in District 38 two years ago, indicated that his campaign theme will be different from last year’s, when the Republicans ran on the “corruption tax” message against then-Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joe Ferriero.
“Corruption is going to be a little part of it,” he said. “I ran in ’07 against Joe Coniglio’s ticket. We focused a lot of it against corruption, and you know the way that went.”