Stepping over the stunned, melted-downinfrastructure of a Democratic Partymachine that failed to elect Jerome Jewell in the Hillside mayor's race yesterday, Union County Republican Chairman Phil Morin seized onreal estate developer Joe Menza's victory as a symbolic statement in the "backyard" of Union County Democratic Chair Charlotte DeFillipo.
The fact that GOP gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie poured bodies into the Union County town, and personallycut a robocall on Menza's behalf even as the Democratic Governor's Association (DGA) channeled dollars into the Union County town to buttress Jewell gave Morin a special pride in the unofficial outcome.
"While Menza's slate didn't win, his victory sent a message to Union County that Union will be a battleground in 2009," said Morin. "We're very proud of the fact that Union County Republicans and Chris Christie were able to assist the Menza campaign in getting him across the finish line in this runoff."
Morin had reached out personally to Menza campaign strategist John O'Shea to see if there was any way in which his organization could assist in Menza's independent battle with Jewell and DeFilippo, who lives in Hillside and serves as the town's municipal Democratic Party chair in addition to her county party duties.
After hearing an affirmative answer from O'Shea,the Menza camp'snext call came from the Christie camp.
Menza's coalition included Councilwoman Shelley Bates, former School Board Member Andre Daniels, and Jeffrey Dykes, an aideto state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark)-all registered Democrats and supporters of President Barack Obama in this heavily Democratic, black-white town where the demographic edge leans African-American.
"Menza's winin the Union County chairwoman's backyard demonstrates that her grip and her organization's grip in Union County are loosening," Morin said."The message and symbolism of Joe Menza winning against a Democratic machine that included $10,400 from the DGA demonstrates opposition to (DeFillipo's) party politics."
DeFillipo was not available for comment, but Morin said given the closeness of the election (an eight vote Menza win), he is fairly certain there would be a recount.