Passaic County Update

Post-primary maneuvers continue to progress as expected in Passaic County for both the Republicans and Democrats, with a few odd surprises.

On the Republican side, Monday saw a number of key elections for municipal party chairs.

Paterson: The committee met and elected by a vote of 21-6 Betty Brown, the mother of Paterson Board of Education President and 2005 GOP D35 Assembly primary candidate Chauncey I. Brown III, as GOP municipal leader. She is a close ally to former Mayor Pat Kramer.

Passaic: Confusion as to the time/date of the meeting led 8th district congressional candidate Jose Sandoval and his intensely loyal block of supporters to hold their own meeting, at which Sandoval was elected Chairman. However, the actual meeting is supposedly scheduled for next Monday. So for now, the city seems very split. Sources say that Freeholder candidate and Passaic City Councilman Jonathan Soto has decided to back Scott Rumana for Chairman. Passaic is the municipality to watch.

Clifton: GOP Muncipal Chairman John Traier defeated current County Chairman and former 2-term Freeholder Mike Mecca. 53-32 vote.

West Milford: Councilman Carmen Scangarello, a Mecca/Murphy ally, won on a 13-8 vote.

Haledon: Ayman Mamkej (من أصل شركسي) defeated incumbent Mecca/Murphy ally Jeff Fischer for the GOP Chairmanship. 6-3 vote.

Wayne: Council President Chris Vergano, a strong ally of Mayor and front-running GOP Chair candidate Scott Rumana (من أصل أشوري) was unanimously elected.

Hawthorne: Shirley Shortway-English retained the Chair, although reportedly a sizable percentage of the County Committee remains loyal to Mayor Patrick Botbyl and will support Scott Rumana for GOP County Chairman.

The election of the County Chairman, a contest between the heavy favorite, Wayne Mayor Scott Rumana, and a last-minute challenger, former Little Falls Mayor Eugene Liss, has been pushed back one week until next Tuesday, as per a court decision handed down by Judge Robert Passero. The judge based his ruling on the lack of certified results from the County Clerk in the County Committee election, however it is unclear what has caused these delays, and if any of the provisional ballots would even have an impact.

I do not know Liss, and although I have heard mostly positive things about him, even his staunchest supporters must recognize that he has a very tough task to introduce himself to the entire County Committee in just one week.

So on Tuesday, the Passaic County Republican Party looks headed to a long-anticipated and very positive change of direction.

As for the Democrats, Sami Merhi appears to have captured the attention of County Chairman John Currie by running as an independent following his court case. Sami has said he is ready to rejoin the Democrats and abandon his independent candidacy in exchange for a state-level appointment from Governor Jon Corzine.

However, the Democrats seem to have finally ended their ridiculous electoral version of musical chairs. Merhi's replacement, Joanne Graziano, has finally withdrawn and the Democrats appear to have found a star candidate in Tahesha Way, who with degrees from Brown and UVA will easily be the best-educated office holder in Passaic County. Way joins the Freeholder Board early as an appointee to finish the term of Lois Cuccinello. Her husband, Charles Way, played for the New York Giants, which will certainly not hurt the Democrats' fundraising operations.


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