This represents a major tactical change for Merhi, who had clearly been "playing the victim" up until now, much to the chagrin of myself and my Arab-American GOP colleagues. In any case, Merhi has clearly altered his approach and decided to confront his party head-on for their betrayal, and I like it. I like it when people stand up to the paper-tiger bosses of machine politics.
The Record and the Herald News discuss the lawsuit, which is scheduled to be heard in court on Thursday, here. The article also gives background on the case.
Democratic leaders immediately chastised Merhi's lawsuit, especially Currie, who called it "ridiculous". The most telling remark, though, came from longtime Merhi advocate Congressman Bill Pascrell.
"Sami is my friend. Although I appreciate how he feels, I wish he hadn't taken this path."First of all, it is widely known Passaic County Democratic factions loyal to Currie and Pascrell, respectively, have been feuding on and off. So should we really believe that Pascrell - whose prominence in some quarters of the Democratic Party has waned, and whose son was only reappointed to a cushy job as Passaic County Counsel because former GOP freeholders Mike Mecca and Walter Porter provided crucial votes in his favor (actually moving and seconding his renomination) - is actually disappointed to see John Currie taken to court?
Democratic Party insiders suggest that Pascrell, after a somewhat anemic electoral showing relative to fellow Democrat and rival Sheriff Jerry Speziale in the 2004 race, appears to have been using any and all political means at his disposal to erode Currie's power base, including the shameless use of Republican proxies. Apparently indifferent to a continued Republican presence on the Freeholder Board to re-appoint his son to the cushy post, he appears to have solidified an alliance with Mecca and his puppeteer, convicted felon and former Republican County Chairman Peter Murphy.
Mecca and Murphy recently led the charge to strongarm the republican executive committee to vote against appointing a GOP challenger to Pascrell, who is seeking his 6th term. (I challenged him 2 years ago for the sake of the party). How can they claim to be loyal Republicans when they would allow one of the top Democrats in Passaic County to go unchallenged? They are carrying his water, just as they did in 2004.
Time and time again, Mecca and Murphy demonstrate that their key motivation is not standing up for conservative principles or for the Republican Party. They are in politics for themselves, and they are certainly not above cutting sweetheart deals with Democrat bosses like Pascrell.
Sources say that Pascrell is really betting on Murphy, who will likely seek a new term as GOP Chairman in the June 13th intramural election. Accordingly, he has reportedly registered discontent with Murphy's GOP opponent, the slow-to-anger lacrosse-playing Mayor of Wayne, Scott Rumana.
Passaic County Democrats need to question why Sami Merhi got a raw deal, why their inept leadership is playing musical chairs on the ballot, and why a United States Congressman spends so much time intervening in local Republican politics, even making alliances with a felon.
Passaic County Republicans need to clean our own house. Let's leave it at that for now.