Skip to comments.Bergen GOP pins hopes on new leadership (NJ primary fix---global Giuliani plants ringer from Texas)
Posted on 07/24/2007 8:13:00 AM PDT by Liz
Bergen County Republicans quietly began a new era Monday, electing Ridgewood lawyer and national fund-raiser Rob Ortiz to head the county GOP. In a vote at the party's festive Hackensack headquarters, Ortiz, 35, defeated GOP veterans Ben Focarino, 64, of Garfield and Bill Thomson, 57, of Washington Township. "We're going to move forward together. We're going to stop re-creating the wheel and we're going to start winning seats," Ortiz said.
Ortiz campaigned for the chairmanship on a promise to unify the factional county party and reverse its reputation for embarrassing defeats and financial destitution. In the last year alone, the Bergen County Republican Organization lost its last remaining seat on the county freeholder board, was outspent 11-to-1 by Democrats for countywide offices and was locked out of its party headquarters for failure to pay rent. Ortiz succeeds Guy Talarico, who resigned in June after he waged a losing primary against two incumbent legislators.
The race for chairman was decided by 455 of the party's 1,040 eligible voters. Ortiz received 263 votes. Focarino received 171 and Thomson 24. Bergen, the state's most populous county, is essential to any GOP candidate seeking statewide office. No Republican has ever won statewide office without carrying Bergen, the adage goes. So bolstering the Bergen GOP is seen as a necessary first step to bolstering an eventual GOP candidate for a U.S. Senate seat or governor.
"This is clearly [a party] where things have been moving in the wrong direction," said state GOP chairman Tom Wilson, who attended the vote. "We've had a lot of divisions in the party. Tonight marks the end of that." Shortly after Talarico's departure, state GOP officials held teleconference calls with representatives of different Bergen Republican factions, urging them to set aside ideological differences with the goal of building a disciplined county organization.
Ortiz, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, is regarded as a highly productive fund-raiser for the national GOP. He raised money in New Jersey for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and is working in behalf of Rudolph Giuliani's presidential bid.
That fund-raising experience, Ortiz has said, shows him that Bergen has plenty of eager GOP donors. "I know plenty of people who can write the $4,600 maximum contribution level to the president," he said last month. "The task is to translate those large donors into local donors as well." Ortiz said the party also needs to make better use of technology, communicating and organizing quickly via e-mail. And it needs to cultivate a deep bench of potential candidates for higher office -- by reaching out to local GOP mayors and council members.
Many who attended the vote said that no matter who won, Monday marked a fresh start for Republicans in Bergen County. "Everyone and anyone needs to walk in through the door as if they know nothing about the party, nothing about the past," said Joe Crifasi, a Carlstadt councilman. "I would just as soon everyone in the room have amnesia and move forward together."
I’d love to hear about it. I used to be rather involved with NJ GOP stuff (Bret). Now, I’m in Baghdad. The backroom deal-cutting is remarkably similar. Also, are they really gonna run that anonymous chick against Sen. Fossil next year? Sheesh. Save us Chris Christie . . . you’re our only hope.
Agree with most of your points, wish Mr. Ortiz the best, but still think Rudy is a corrupt, control freak greaseball former Mayor of a Third-World majority city. ;-)
I do wish that people would think more about how government policies create and perpetrate situations like you describe as NYC being a third world city. As long as people keep blaming illegal immigration on businesses they are thinking like progressives and ignoring the role of government policies that redistribute taxes on the basis of population. That is a big factor, too.