Time for a change at the top

The Herald News printed my editorial piece today, entited, "Time for a change at the top".
Time for a change at the top - Passaic County Republicans deserve no less

by GEORGE AJJAN - Sunday, June 4, 2006

Passaic County Republicans, it's time for us to do some soul-searching.

Right now, 150,000 American soldiers are deployed in Iraq, bolstering a fledgling democratically elected government.

Americans spill blood in foreign lands for the sake of better government, and for the most part Republicans support the concept. We believe in good government, even on the other side of the world.

How then can we as Republicans sit back and allow – right here in our own backyard – a complete mockery of everything that our nation hopes to accomplish in Iraq and everything we hold dear: accountability, good government, justice and the rule of law.

As we speak, a convicted felon is preparing an effort to seize control of the Passaic County Republican Party. A man who spent time in a federal penitentiary is actively campaigning amongst party insiders and county committee members, to regain the chairmanship of the Passaic County GOP.

He must be stopped. Peter Murphy admitted his guilt in a federal court. Period. End of discussion.

If we, as Republicans, believe in the American justice system, then we must flatly reject Murphy. This is an absolutely existential issue. Existential is a fancy word. But it has a simple meaning that relates to our moral stance. It means we cannot sit on our hands and equivocate when a felon who once lost the right to vote now wants to be elected to lead the county Republican Party. We cannot ask the public to put its trust in our political party if we allow ourselves to be led by one who admitted criminal acts and dishonest behavior.

Many times in politics, people talk about the "third rail." The third rail is the electrified one between the train tracks that will kill you if you touch it. So we need to ask ourselves: Is criminality the third rail for Passaic County Republicans? Are we going to be afraid to confront Murphy because some people say he's a nice guy?

There is nothing to fear about rebuffing Murphy's candidacy. Many long-time Republicans in Passaic County remember the power his father "Red" Murphy commanded in the 1980s. But that era has passed.

The truth is that Murphy is not worthy of fear. Passaic County Republicans, especially those on the county committee, need to remember that when they cast their votes for chairman.

In all likelihood, Murphy will bow out at the last minute and one of his lieutenants will seek the chairmanship, perhaps even the current chairman, Michael Mecca.

Mecca will continue to operate the party as he has done for the past few years. For example, all the members of the County Committee have received some letters recently from Mecca defending Murphy to the hilt.

I hope the county committee will vote for a change in leadership strictly on the basis of principle. Of course, some people might say: principles are nice, but winning is nicer. So for argument's sake, let's forget about principles. Let's simply look at the win-loss record.

First of all, the idea that Murphy was a winner is a myth. Whatever success the Passaic County GOP scored at the polls in the early 1990s had little to do with Murphy, and resulted from strong GOP candidates at the top of the ballot. Mecca has been even worse. Since he became chairman, every single one of the Republican candidates who sought countywide office has been defeated at the polls.

Under Murphy and Mecca's leadership, we have lost every single office in Passaic County government, including seven freeholders, the county clerk, the sheriff, the Surrogate, the 8th District Congressional seat, and a 35th District Assembly seat. Even municipalities like Ringwood and Bloomingdale that used to be staunchly Republican are now under Democrat control. Things can hardly get any worse.

The current leadership has failed to adapt to changing times. They have made practically no outreach to ethnic minorities, especially those that have moved from Paterson and Passaic and now own their own homes in suburbs like North Haledon and Little Falls. GOP organizations like Young Republicans, College Republicans, and Women's Republicans, have lay dormant for years. All of these shortcomings show through in poor electoral results.

Four years ago, members of the Passaic County Republican County Committee entered the voting booths and chose Mecca to be their chairman. Since then, these individuals have been loyal party soldiers and worked hard for the sake of the GOP. But the leadership at the top provided poor strategic guidance. Now it is time to change direction.

When members of the county committee enter the voting booth on June 13 and cast their ballots for chairman, their choice is clear. Whether their motivations are principled or pragmatic, they must reject Murphy and Mecca and put the GOP on the right track toward victory once again. The Republican Party deserves no less.

George Ajjan, a former Republican congressional candidate for the 8th District, lives in Clifton.

O --- This article first appeared in the Herald News on June 4, 2006.


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