WAYNE – Joseph Cupoli, a Republican councilman from Clifton, set a tone for a hoped-for future for the Passaic County GOP before the results of the vote for chairman were announced Tuesday night at the party’s reorganization meeting.
“We’ve got to come together as a party. We’ve got to get Republicans elected in November,” said Cupoli, 50, a Passaic County freeholder candidate. “We can’t go back and forth with fighting that’s embarrassing to us. We’ve got to come together, and move forward.”
John Traier, the chairman of the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization, was reelected to another 3-year term on Tuesday night by a decisive 187 to 80 vote margin over challenger Thomas F.X. Magura, a margin that seemed to put the kibosh on any simmering dissent among the approximately 500 members of the Passaic GOP committee.
“We are a united party. Our little fight is over,” said Traier, 58, an accountant from Clifton who is also a state Assembly candidate in the 34th Legislative District, moments after the tallied votes were announced. “Now we’ve got to work to make sure that we win three freeholder seats and a whole bunch of Assembly seats. We’ve got to stop tearing each other apart, and we’ve got to start working together to beat Democrats.”
There was some concern among Traier’s supporters that committee members aligned with former Passaic County Republican Chairman Peter Murphy would move in force against Traier, according to sources. State Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-40), a key Passaic GOP player, beat back Murphy in 2012 when he supported Traier for chairman over the Murphy-backed Scott Heck.
But at the end of Tuesday night, Traier, congratulated by supporters inside Passaic GOP headquarters in Wayne, told PolitickerNJ that he had received texts from both Rumana and Murphy congratulating him on his reelection as chairman.
“I believe that both Mr. Murphy and Assemblyman Rumana were uniquely supporting me, because I was trying to work with both of them to bring the party back together,” Traier said. “While they still fight amongst themselves occasionally over this issue or that issue, we’ve stopped the big, bruising, horrible primaries that we’ve had continuously over the last ten years. I think dissension is now pretty much quelled.”
Murphy and Rumana were both not present for Tuesday night’s vote. Rumana, reached by phone, expressed his continued support for Traier’s leadership of the Passaic GOP.
“I think this is great. This time, it certainly wasn’t as contentious as it was [in 2012],” Rumana said. “John Traier will lead us forward.”
Before going home, Traier, outnumbered about 2-1 by Democrats in county party registration but hoping to make inroads in Passaic County’s large and growing Latino population, spoke to how he would do just that.
“My values are conservative, but on social issues, I’m clearly much more moderate. I look at the ‘big tent theory’ of the Republican Party much more than some of our national figures do,” Traier said. “I think we need to bring people of color, and especially Latinos, into our party. We need to find a way to resolve our immigration problems through some sort of reform. I think the most important thing is that people are unhappy with the Democratic Party, but they so far have not seen fit to become Republicans. I think we need to change that, and that’s what I’ve been trying to work on for the last there years, and that’s what I will work on during the next three years.”