HACKENSACK – The Republicans thought they had just the right fit for a respectable kamikaze candidate in CD9. Attorney Michael Oren Epstein of Englewood looked ready and willing, and had even “talked it over with family.”
But he folded three days ago, leaving the part scrambling – but only in slow motion – for a replacement.
On the one hand, a commitrtee member explained to PolitickerNJ here in Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) HQ, it’s embarrassing to think of no one going up against U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9).
Right now, that’s the situation.
On the other hand, ran off-the-record speculation in the room, not fielding a candidate would put Pascrell in slumber mode for the general election.
The real battle will be for seats on the freeholder board.
Republicans want to turn incumbent Democrats Joan Voss and David Ganz out of office and chop into the Dems’ 5-2 board control.
TYhey’re here tonight trying to decide on their candidates to run in the general election with popular incumbent County Executive Kathe Donovan, who’s in the room.
Since defeating U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman two years ago, Pascrell has turned into a twin-headed county animal, powered by not only his own longtime toehold in Passaic but now Bergenized.
The GOP doesn’t want to wake him up so that he gets in gear for county races.
As for the seat itself, a GOP source sounded a common statewide theme when confronted with a question about the county’s federal political obligation.
“No one cares about Congress,” was the curt response, unaccompanied by the usual expletives that other insiders in both parties reserve to dismiss the once hallowed association of the U.S. House of Representatives.
And anyway, said another source, “that’s an unwinnable seat.”
GOP sources seem in agreement that the best strategic solution would be a warm body – not necessarily with a pulse – to take on Pascrell.
But with the more than able Epstein gone, no one is filling the void.