Ask leaders of the two Republican factions in Passaic County how they swept the county office elections last night and you get two different interpretations.
Passaic County Republican Chairman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne), who's also an assemblyman, attributed the win to the dominant Democratic Party losing touch with the county's residents.
"You have citizens in Passaic County who have been disenfranchised by the Democratic Party," he said. "We've been pulling in people who were not part of the party for many years, and that's really been a big, big help in this process."
In a stunning upset, Republicans beat three Democrats – including the incumbent freeholder director, Tahesha Way – and won the county clerk seat
Rumana said that his party's "team building" approach to leadership also played a role.
But Mike Mecca, who is chairman of the splinter group GOP Strong – which challenged Rumana for his chairmanship and supported assembly primary candidates against him – said that Kristin Corrado, county clerk candidate that GOP Strong recruited to defeat the PCRRO's candidate in the June primary –led the Republican ticket to victory.
"She's the future star of the Republican Party here in Passaic County," said Mecca.
The only thing about last night that the two sides seem to agree on is that turnout was depressed in the urban centers of Passaic and Paterson that are crucial to Democrats.
Mecca said it was the GOP Strong towns – Totowa, Clifton, Haledon and West Milford – that helped push the Republicans across the line.
Even after a huge win for Republicans, the party here is still not mended from an internal battle that peaked in June. Since Rumana held onto both his assembly seat and chairmanship, the public sniping has lessened. But hard feelings remain.
Mecca said Rumana had done nothing to follow up on the party co-chairmanship idea he announced after easily winning reelection as chairman.
‘Nothing came of it. It was just a bunch of words," he said.