He was the toast of the GOP a year ago in Atlantic City at the annual League of Municipalities Convention, but this year Monmouth County Republican Chairman Shaun Golden must plod the long carpeted hallways of those faded casinos beset by the biggest Republican loss of the season: LD11.
It perhaps will not comfort Golden to know that one of those ticket mates pulverized by the Democratic challengers now has people telling her that the only way out of this mess for the Monmouth GOP is if Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11) pulverizes Golden.
Essentially, two sources told PolitickerNJ, Casagrande is in under-the-hood mode with her allies trying to determine if her best way back into the game is to challenge Golden next year for the chairmanship. The assemblywoman’s allies argue that Golden put too many of his resources into countywide races and allowed himself to be carried away by the complacency he found with last year’s wins.
2014 found Monmouth County Democratic Chairman VIn Gopal – not Golden – nursing a headache on the boardwalk.
But a Republican source close to the unfolding intra-party big drama show said some Republicans want Golden gone not just because of the loss Casagrande and her running mate Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini suffered. They note GOP failures in towns like Matawan and Aberdeen and point the finger at the chairman.
Casagrande may be propelled into a race against Golden on the strength of the argument that the chairman can’t simultaneously run for another term as party chairman and sheriff, which is indeed the challenge before him next year.
She says no way. Won’t happen.
She doesn’t want it.
But that doesn’t stop Republican operatives from sniffing around for an opportunity.
A Red Bank Catholic acculturated Republican with pro-life values, Casagrande long endeared herself to District 11 conservatives who barely tolerated the more moderate tones of her running mates, Angelini and state Senator Jen Beck. Angelini could red meat her way into an overthrow of the pragmatic Golden, insist her allies.
Then there’s the lame duck assemblywoman’s ambition. She sees herself as the natural successor to U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4), one Republican source told PolitickerNJ; or a Trenton inner sanctum player, and did not expect getting upended at 38 years of age.
She’s looking to get back in.
“She very motivated,” one source told PolitickerNJ.
She may have added incentive, the source added, with her friend Freeholder Serena DiMaso on wobbly reelection legs among those avid Golden backers within the county committee. DiMaso could be just the damsel in distress Casagrande and company need to ride herd on Golden.
Then there are those Golden allies who say Casagrande – not Golden – demonstrated lack of campaign urgency and got what she deserved. This is a developing story, but right now signs point to Golden v. (if not Casagrande, as she insists it won’t be, a Casagrande facsimile, as Golden haters say it will have to be) for the Republican chairmanship of Monmouth County come 2016.
Maybe it will all get resolved next week in Atlantic City…