Passaic County Republican Update

As of yesterday, the Passaic County Republican Party has a complete slate of candidates to compete against 3 Democrat incumbents for their Freeholder slots, just over 2 months before Election Day. As expected and previously endorsed by the Executive Committee of the county GOP, the Committee assembled, nominated, and selected Passaic resident and technology manager Arturo Soto and Clifton Board of Education member Keith LaForgia, who also works as a Union contractor. These two candidates join Erik Lowe, a banker from Paterson, who was chosen earlier this summer.

The ticket is interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, each of the GOP candidates hails from one of the three "down county" cities of Passaic County: Paterson, Clifton, and Passaic. Considering the Democrats' reputation as an urban-stronghold party, some many consider it ironic that each of the Democrat candidates hails from the "up county" suburbs (Wayne – Tahesha Way, Little Falls – James Gallagher, Ringwood – Sonia Rosado). It's a bit of juxtaposition, as each of those towns are Republican by voter registration, plus each rests in the solidly Republican 40th District of the NJ Assembly.

There is a Black/White/Hispanic ethnic angle to this race as well, but I'm not going to get into it here – we get enough dehumanizing sectarian politics from all the geniuses reporting on the Middle East.

I have already written about Soto and Lowe, so let me say a bit about Keith LaForgia. First of all, I got to know Keith 2 years when he was running for Clifton Board of Ed and I was running for Congress, and I like him a great deal. He is a stand-up guy and is well respected in Clifton. A major player in Clifton politics told me last week, "If I was going to war, I'd definitely want Keith in my foxhole."

He is an ally of Clifton Municipal Leader John Traier and is also very close to Frank Fusco, the Clifton Republican Club President who "took one for the team" against State Senator Nia Gill in 2003 but won a seat on the Clifton City Council this year in the mini-revolution that kicked out 4 of 7 incumbents in a devastating proxy loss for the previous GOP regime. So Keith is well positioned in his hometown. He may also bring Union support to the race, which I personally view as a double-edged sword as there may be a quid-pro-quo associated with it.

As for the race on the whole, well it will largely come down to voter disposition at the top of the ticket and how that translates down the line. The Republicans are unfortunately not expected to win, and will be dreadfully outspent. However, if Tom Kean runs strong and sweeps one GOP Freeholder in, it will be a real treat.