TOMS RIVER, NJ – A failed attempt by the anti-Trump contingency within the New Jersey Republican Party to seize control of the state GOP organization fell short today when millionaire big-pharma executive Bob Hugin lost his bid to become the next chairman of the party. Hugin, who dumped $40,000,000 of his own money to lose a U.S. Senate election to Bob Menendez in 2018 was backed by the swampland contingency of state committeeman William Palatucci and committeewoman Virginia E. Haines. It was a major defeat for the blue Jersey never-Trumpers within the Republican party who also support the gubernatorial campaign of fellow never-Trumper Jack Ciattarelli.
Even with the backing of Haines, Palatucci, and several GOP political bosses here at the Jersey Shore, Hugin lost bigly. For Ocean County Chairman Frank B. Holman, it’s another loss in a mounting pile of internal party defeats since winning the position nearly two years ago.
Sources in the party said Holman spent the past two days on the telephone twisting arms of anyone who would take his call, to persuade them to vote for Hugin.
For the Republican party, which is hanging at the edge of the cliff in NJ, Lavery’s win represents a major victory for conservative Republicans to preserve the integrity of the party and brand in New Jersey. The Hugin led contingency wants to put Trump behind them and move forward with an agenda more in line with the New Jersey Democrat Party.
Former Governor Chris Christie’s fingerprints were also all over the last-minute effort to get Hugin in the door. Now with the party divided between the Steinhardt camp and the Ciattarelli camp, conservatives in New Jersey can be the deciding voice in the June primary. Steinhardt and Hugin are also up against Atlantic County conservative Hirsh Singh and 2017 gubernatorial candidate Joe Rullo.
Lavery defeated Hugin by a 24-18 vote, upsetting Haines and Palatucci who nominated Hugin for the position. With two RNC state committee members behind him and the promise to raise $1,000,000 for Republican candidates in 2017, the Haines, Palatucci never-Trumper contingent was soundly defeated in the vote of 42 county state committee members, two for each of the 21 counties.
Now, with another defeat under his belt in internal party politics, the Holman-Haines faction is making another run at taking over the Toms River Republican Club, party insiders tell Shore News Network. Joined by New Jersey Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, the man who crafted a bill to fine New Jerseyans $15,000 for violating “Murphy’s Law” during the pandemic, and Toms River Mayor Mo Hill, they have failed three prior times to take over the party in the Ocean County seat. These days, the “Mo Hill Gang” takes orders from former Ocean County GOP Chairman Joseph Buckelew, who is literally in bed with South Jersey Democrat boss George Norcross. Buckelew and Norcross, together run a pay-to-play insurance mega-empire in New Jersey, which is really what politics down south has been about for a very long time.
While some who are diehard supporters and paid consultants for Holman claim it’s time to turn New Jersey’s page from the Trump era, today’s vote shows that Republicans in New Jersey outside of the mutinous anti-Trump establishment aren’t ready to give up yet.
The never-Trump contingent now has to convince New Jersey Republicans that Jack Ciattarelli is the man for the job to replace Phil Murphy despite his calling Trump a charlatan who isn’t fit for office back during the 2017 election cycle.
It’s going to be an interesting ride for the next 7 months to see if the party can overcome the latest coup and come together to defeat Murphy or whether the angry brigade within the party establishment will continue doing damage, allowing Murphy to sail to victory in 2021.