Dem Fifth Column makes its move at Sussex Convention
It is not news that the Democrat Party has had a hard time making inroads in Sussex County. Gary Chiusano beat the last Democrat Freeholder a decade ago and the Democrats big break in 2007 was squashed by the “Real Conservative Team” of Steve Oroho, Alison McHose, Gary Chiusano, Hal Wirths, and Jeff Parrott.
2007 was the year the Democrats had everything going for them: The Republican Party “brand” was in the tank, “Clean Elections” gave them matching funds dollar for dollar with the Republicans, and two state legislative seats (Senate and Assembly) were open, along with a Freeholder seat. The result was a wipe out right down the ballot, with longtime local Democrats losing their elected positions due to a Republican surge in turnout.
Since then, the Democrats have used a different approach: Some of them become Republicans. Then, as Republicans, they champion liberal causes and positions that “normalize” those positions with Republican voters. In this way, what the Democrats’ campaigns offer does not differ from what the Republicans are doing. Personality will matter more than party and eventually, Democrats will start being elected again.
The Democrats’ play was acted out on Saturday at the convention called to fill the vacancy left when Gary Chiusano resigned from the Assembly. Chiusano had resigned earlier this the month after being nominated by Governor Chris Christie and confirmed by the State Senate to serve as Sussex County’s new Surrogate.
Under New Jersey law, the vacancy is filled by the members of the county committee of the party of the incumbent vacating the seat. Gary Chiusano is a Republican, so that meant the Republican county committee members of the 24th District (all Sussex County, eleven towns in Warren County, and one in Morris County) got to select the new Assemblyman.
Notice of the meeting was given by the GOP Chairmen (one, Ailish Hambel of Sussex County, is a chairwoman) of the three counties that make up the 24th District. Because the district had never had a convention to fill a vacancy since redistricting, the three chairmen met and adopted rules that would serve until the full convention could convene.
The rules they adopted were the same used in the 2009 convention for District 23, which included all of Warren County then. Those rules called for prospective candidates to collect the signatures of 20 county committee members out of the more than 400 eligible to vote. Only one candidate complied with the rules, Parker Space, the eventual winner.
Another candidate, Mark Quick, collected 14 signatures, while another, Bader Qarmout, told at least a half dozen party officials that he had collected 23 signatures, but when the time came to turn them in he failed to have any.
This is where the clever Democrats come in. A Democrat campaign operative from Hudson County attempted to create a firestorm against the rules in order to delegitimize whichever Republican won the convention. Of course, on the day of the convention, the chairman of the convention (Warren County GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt) was quite happy to dispense with the “acting” rules and adopt the rules as amended by the whole convention. There was no fuss at all and, in fact, Parker Space made the motion to change them.
But everyone there could see that some at the convention were ready for a fight. One ally of the Hudson County operative had been seething over the “unfair” rules and left unfulfilled, having never achieved the anticipated climax. The Democrats’ plan, to dupe a few Republicans into creating a false “controversy” and divide the GOP, had failed.
Enter Bader Qarmout.
Qarmout had served notice with the county chairmen and other Republican officials that he had collected 23 signatures but, instead of turning them in, he sent out an email two days before the convention that complained about the process. Whether he was a dupe or whether he knew he was playing the Democrats’ game, nobody but Qarmout can say.
After the “controversy” of the rules turned out to be a myth, the liberal operatives used their back-up “controversy”: The appointment of Gary Chiusano as Surrogate.
Last December, when Sussex Surrogate Nancy Fitzgibbons retired, Assemblyman Gary Chiusano had made it plain that he wanted to run for the position. Chiusano’s background and his fiduciary accreditation in banking and finance make him superbly qualified for the job. But that did not stop liberals and their allies from claiming that only a lawyer could do the job (even though it has never been held by a lawyer).
As with their manufactured rules “controversy”, the left started banging on about how “the fix was in” and they predicted that Chiusano would never be confirmed by the Democrat-controlled State Senate. Of course, Gary Chiusano was nominated by Governor Christie and confirmed by the full Senate and that was that. Nevertheless, the liberals have found a candidate to run against Chiusano in the Republican primary and are set to announce a second candidate who will challenge him in the general election as a Democrat.
Chiusano is a big part of the Hometown Conservative Team, led by Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose. At Saturday’s convention, McHose and Oroho had nominated and seconded the nomination of Parker Space. Why not give them a black eye, the liberals thought.
And so the left got to work trying to turn the anger they had generated about the rules into votes against Parker Space. This failed too, but not before those present were treated to a speech by Bader Qarmout in which he forgot that he wasn’t running against Joe Kyrillos anymore and promised that he would fight for them “in Washington“.
So the left was put out on Saturday but we must remain on guard because they will try again.
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