WAYNE – The chandeliers in North Jersey hang like a constellation strung by bosses from one mountain chalet to the next, dead-ending finally in that dreary approximation of democracy otherwise known as the two-party system, where tonight, Passaic County GOP Chairman John Traier presided over a room doubly overseen by the broadly grinning corner presence of former Chairman Peter Murphy of Totowa.
Murphy loomed large among party members just days before the organization’s executive committee examines a resolution that would remove a bylaw forbidding those convicted of crimes from serving on the organization’s executive committee. Entangled in a mail fraud conviction and thrown out of the chairmanship years ago, a regenerating Murphy strengthened himself in West Milford and Woodland Park with county committee seat victories this year, sending a shiver through his longtime enemies who want him politically toothless and out of the picture.
“What will be, will be,” Murphy beamed when PolitickerNJ if he’s trying to have the executive committee remove the barrier to facilitate his return to power.
“I’m here to see Judge [William] Roca sworn in,” he added. Moments later, state Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) performed the honors, but it was still the Murphy question that dominated cocktail conversations here in the Grand Chalet.
After years of brutal civil war, it was like seeing Stonewall Jackson convivial and conversational among the likes of Tecumsah Sherman and Ulysses Grant.
“That’s not happening,” said Traier, when PolitickerNJ asked the chairman if the proposed resolution didn’t simply remove a barricade to Murphy’s return to power.
“At this point it’s crazy not to recognize what it is,” he added, giving a nod to Murphy’s muscle-up Election Day presence. “I was against this amendment. I know it looks terrible. I’m just recognizing a local reality. This is the one way we can unify the party. It’s not what I’m trying to accomplish here [Murphy’s return to the chairmanship]. …I’m still feuding with him on a whole host of issues.”
Traier said the resolution would enable Murphy to sit on the executive committee from his hometown of Totowa, as a local chairman, but insisted that he intends to serve the remainder of the three-year countywide term he won just last month as chairman. There’s no plan for him to relinquish the chairmanship or to give the scepter of the realm to the regular Republican Party’s longtime tormentor.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said when PolitickerNJ asked Traier if he plans to serve the full term. “I’m committed to building the party. If he [Murphy] wants to take me on, he can take me on.”
A source at the reception told PolitickerNj that Traier feels that by allowing Murphy in he can deal with him directly and not have to work with a Totowa toady for Murphy. He can look Murphy in the eye rather than have to get that phone call later or deal with back chatter.