On July 18, Republicans from around the country will converge on Cleveland, Ohio to take part in the Republican National Convention (RNC). New Jersey Republicans will be well represented in Cleveland as they participate in the process that will likely name businessman Donald Trump the official party nominee and select a vice presidential running mate.
As it now stands, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is considered to be one of the frontrunners for the vice presidential nomination.
PolitickerNJ spoke with some of New Jersey’s 51 pledged delegates to see what they expect from next week’s convention, what they are looking forward to and what they think New Jersey will bring to the table in Ohio.
NJGOP Chairman Sam Raia
“Hundreds of Republicans from across New Jersey are eagerly awaiting the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and look forward to jumpstarting our efforts to take back the White House. Our convention will highlight Donald Trump’s successful career in the private sector and track record of getting things done and set up a clear contrast with career politician and failed bureaucrat Hillary Clinton who will only serve to continue the failed economic and foreign policies of the Obama Administration.”
State Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26)
“I am in Cleveland already as part of the platform committee. I find the process really interesting. I am happy to participate. It is a new and exciting thing for me to be on the platform committee. This is my fourth convention.
“As far as Chris Christie, I think he would be an absolutely fantastic vice president. I thought he would be a fantastic president, which is why I supported him before I supported Donald Trump. But that is a decision Donald Trump has to make and certainly next week that is going to be a big surprise that we are all waiting to hear.”
Pennacchio also addressed rumors that Trump’s presidential candidacy may be challenged by some convention attendees who are pushing to unpledge delegates and nominate another candidate in Trump’s place:
“I think the rumors are nothing more that sour grapes. All 17 people who ran in the primaries had a shot. Some, like Jeb Bush, had more of a shot. So, to deny Donald Trump what he won fair and square, I think, is insane.”
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21)
“I am excited about being in the New Jersey hotel that will have hundreds of Republicans. That is what I did in Tampa. That is my main focus. The convention itself is fine but I like being in the hotel with the other New Jersey Republicans.
“I think Chris Christie is a very possible pick for vice president. I also think that he is a close advisor to Donald Trump so New Jersey has a governor who is very close to the presidential candidate and that makes it interesting.”
Bramnick also plans on doing a stand up comedy performance while in Cleveland. He said this about his upcoming show to be held on Tuesday July 19:
“I think that comedy is important because of how intense politics has become. It is very, very partisan these days and I like to put a lighter touch on it because at the end of the day I think laughing in the middle of what can be a tense political season can be a good idea.”
Passaic County Republican Chairman John Traier
“I think [New Jersey delegates] are a more moderating influence on the issues that should be addressed. We are a blue state so we understand how to be competitive in a blue state so I think we bring that kind of knowledge to the table. And, I think with Governor Christie leading the delegation, we will be expanding on some of those themes.
“I don’t know what role New Jersey will be able to influence on the platform committee. I don’t know exactly how the platform is going to turn out. I am hoping that the party, our candidate and the platform show how smarter, lesser government can be more effective in building our economy making us a world power again. Hopefully it will create some optimism about our country and where we need to go.
“I do hope that the candidate will be a more positive and a little more presidential in his approach to the general election campaign and create some optimism for the country again. With all the things going on between the terrorism and the violence that occurred last week, I hope we can create a more positive view of how the country should be governed. I am looking forward to next week.”
Attorney Steve Altamuro
“We will wait and see on whether or not Governor Christie is going to be the VP or not. There is a list of about six or seven people. I am thinking that they won’t pick him but I am obviously not sure about that. He and Donald Trump are two very similar people so I think they are going to go with someone who is more reserved. If it is Governor Christie I think that is certainly good for New Jersey.
“Christie is our biggest absolute role [of NJ at the RNC]. When they do role call if they do it in alphabetical order like they have at other conventions, we might be close to the state that puts him over the top as far as the vote.
“Generally, there is only so much of a role you can have. We are just one of a few thousand. All of the platform stuff and the rules committee is happening this week so, as a basic delegate, we really don’t have a lot to say or do as far as that is concerned. You are mainly there to support the party in general, listen to the speakers, listen to Donald Trump in this case and just see the party get pulled together. Hopefully we will see the party come out of the convention with new energy. Then, everyone goes back to their specific states and tries to get the job done.
“I just got my agenda and it seems like there is a lot of drinking going on that week so I will do my best to keep up on that end of the bargain.”