Alice Furia, the acting chairwoman of the Burlington County Democratic Committee, is not ready to concede to Assemblyman Herb Conaway’s (D-Delanco) push to hold an election for county chairman on February 4.
In a memo to county committee members she plans to send today, Furia calls a previous letter Conaway sent to them about the upcoming election “null and void.”
“In my 35 years experience with elections, we as a party have never had a candidate call the election, pick the date, time and place,” said Furia. “This was done in a very improper manner.”
Burlington County Democratic leaders had originally planned to hold Furia over as acting chairwoman until June, when the party would elect a successor for a full two-year term. But at Thursday night’s county committee meeting, Conaway pushed for and narrowly passed a resolution to bump the election up to Feb. 4.
Furia said that proper protocol was not followed because she and members of the committee were not given a paper copy of Conaway’s resolution beforehand. Instead, she said, the resolution was read aloud, quickly. Those who showed up to support Conaway had a copy of the resolution, Furia said, but nobody else did.
“The people that voted on it did not have a copy of it to know what they were voting on,” she said.
The Burlington County Democratic Committee has been in turmoil since August, when former chairman Rick Perr resigned over his involvement in a controversial political action committee.
The feud between Furia, Conaway and their allies has at times boiled down into a he-said, she-said spat.
Today, Furia denied Conaway’s claim that she asked him to run for chairman, and gave a different account of the Nov. 17 meeting with Conaway and Riverside Municipal Chairman Gary Haman.
Conaway, she said, called her on November 14 to offer to pay the rent on a new headquarters for the party.
“When he said to me that he would pay for that, he didn’t blink an eye, and Herb is kind of tight with his money,” said Furia, who said she instantly suspected that Conaway was interested in running for chairman.
Three days later, Conaway, Furia and Haman met at Furia’s home for less than an hour. According to Furia, Conaway outlined some party officers he wanted to replace and discussed who would support his bid for the chairmanship. Furia said that neither she nor Haman pledged to support Conaway.
“All he did was come to my house and make a suggestion of what he wanted to do… We listened to what he had to say,” said Furia.
After the meeting, Furia said, Conaway headed to the League of Municipalities Convention in Atlantic City, where she said he talked up his chairmanship bid without notifying the county’s municipal chairs.
“Really, I was furious at someone who could do something so stupid,” she said.
Eleven days later, on Thanksgiving Day, Furia emailed Conaway to say that she did not support his bid for the chairmanship.
“I think all offices you would be responsible for are too much for any one person to handle, Like Dr., Assemblyman, Co. Chairman, Candidate for Senate, Husband, Father,” wrote Furia. “TOO MUCH TOO MUCH something would have to give.. Instead of all that you should now be gathering all the support for your bid for the Senate if this should come up in the near future.”
Conaway, for his part, stuck to the version of events he outlined to PolitickerNJ.com yesterday.
“People have told me never go to a meeting with Alice without bringing someone with you for verification, because you can’t rely on her recitation of the facts,” he said.
As for his resolution, Conaway said everything was done in accordance with the party’s bylaws, and that there was an hour of discussion about it before voting.
“She is going to try to figure out some way to not have an election, so I’m not surprised by this at all,” he said.