EAST BRUNSWICk – Assemblyman Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge), breaks from a pack of fellow Republicans to put the Middlesex County GOP Convention in context.
“Middlesex is the center of the electoral universe this year,” says Thompson, the party’s presumptive chairman here in a county Democrats have controlled for as long as anyone can remember, but which Gov. Chris Christie won in 2009.
“Certainly the John Adler-Jon Runyan race is the number one race of the year, but after that, you have the 12th and 6th district congressional races, and the 14th district state senate race,” says Thompson. “We’ve got great candidates who have done a heckuva job, but there is a national energy here in New Jersey created by last year’s gubernatorial election results. That created great enthusiasm. So there’s a lot of fire right now.”
The allies of Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre don’t appreciate Thompson originally saying he would stay neutral in the 12th District pre-primary, only to reverse himself and embrace Princeton venture capitalist Scott Sipprelle.
The Sipprelle button practically jumps off his lapel.
“There’s a difference between being mayor and being congressman,” he says. “You know, when Scott Sipprelle was a college sophomore, he interned with California Gov. Pete Wilson. I’ve been at this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen a candidate work so hard. He made 400-500 personal phone calls, until ten or eleven every night. He’s just a phenomenal candidate, and has the best shot at beating Rush Holt. Mike Halfacre is a good candidate. If he wins, I’ll support him 110%.
With the 12th Congressional District race garnering the most attention here today and Thompson’s endorsement of Sipprelle so marked (despite winning the nod of the steering committee, Halfacre later receives no formal introduction while Thompson gushes over Sipprelle), the nascent chairman has staked his leadership of this committee on Sipprelle.
“If Sipprelle loses today,” says one insider, “he’ll get challenged for the chairmanship.”