Republicans angry over withdrawal of Highlands nominee

TRENTON — State Sen. Kip Bateman (R-Branchburg) had harsh words for Gov. Jon Corzine today over the withdrawal of a Somerset County nominee to the Highlands Council.

“He can’t leave soon enough, in my opinion,” said Bateman.

Bedminster Mayor Robert F. Holtaway, a Republican from Bateman’s legislative district, showed up to today’s Judiciary Committee meeting expecting to face the committee. But upon arriving for the meeting, the members were notified that Corzine had pulled the nomination.

Holtaway was nominated in June, but the nomination was tabled.

State Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) was also angry.

“To have a nomination made, to go through the process, to fill out the questionnaire, to be on the agenda. To come down here and in lame duck to have the governor of New Jersey withdraw a nomination without so much as notice to the nominee… This is not a good way to go out,” he said.

Somerset County Republican Chairman Dale Florio, a lobbyist, was in the committee room at the time. He said that the withdrawal was at the behest of Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer, who is from Bedminster and used to be the town’s municipal Democratic chairwoman.

“I think it’s just politics,” said Florio. “It only exacerbates the situation getting notified just minutes before the committee meeting.”

Schaffer said she originally requested the nomination be withdrawn back in June. She said that the withdrawal today seemed suden because Corzine could not withdraw it until the Senate was back in session.

The reason she requested the withdrawal, Schaffer said, was because Holtaway had feuded with environmentalists over Bedminster being an environmentally sensitive habitat for the wood turtle. Republicans angry over withdrawal of Highlands nominee