HACKENSACK Bergen County Republicans tonight chose Paramus resident John Driscoll and Mahwah Councilman Robert Hermansen as their freeholder candidates.
The two Republicans will take on Democratic incumbents Julie O’Brien and Vernon Walton in November.
“We’re going to get kicked, we’re going to get punched, we’re going to get bloodied in November. But what we’re going to do is bloody them back, and like I told you in policy, grandma Lilly told me when I was a kid, you pick up a garbage can lid and you win this fight,” said Driscoll in his victory speech.
Driscoll and Hermansen won with 695 and 554 votes, respectively. Chris Calabrese, who ran last year, had 257 votes, while Wyckoff resident Sab Skenderi had 43.
Calabrese started the race as the frontrunner, but saw much of his support depart for Driscoll and Hermansen, who insiders say outworked him by showing up at virtually all local GOP functions. Driscoll, who ran for assembly in District 38 two years ago, said he knocked on about 800 doors over the last three weeks.
Driscoll downplayed the notion that his candidacy was somehow involved in a proxy fight between feuding factions of the local GOP led on one side by Chairman Bob Yudin and on the other by County Clerk Kathe Donovan and lobbyist Alan Marcus.
“This is not about Kathe and Bob. This is about this organization and getting us back working as a team. We have been fighting for eight years, and we’ve lost for eight years,” he said. “I said it to the policy committee: the coat rack is there, check the egos and the problems, and let’s work together. It’s the only way we’re going to win.”
Driscoll said that the message of his campaign would focus on financial matters like property taxes and affordability, rather than the “corruption tax” message of last year, which he also used in his assembly campaign.
“You’ve got to think of ways outside of the box to get this county working like it used to. It’s a broken machine that needs to be fixed, and you’ve got to get new ideas on the freeholder board to fix that broken machine,” he said.
After the results were read, Driscoll, Hermansen and Calabrese all preached party unity.
“I hope we reach out, and everyone here stays together,” said Driscoll.