NJGOP meets: Top Christie advisor blames Romney
Last night’s meeting of the New Jersey Republican State Committee (NJGOP) was part Christie panegyric and part apology tour. Speaker after speaker spoke about how much they love the Governor and about how everyone they know loves the Governor, and everywhere they go, they meet other people who love the Governor. Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers all come up to them and express their love for the Governor. It went on and on this way.
One brave state committee member wondered openly about when all this “love” would result in property taxes going down.
The crux of the meeting was an attempt to apologize for why the NJGOP failed to run any kind of campaign for the Romney-Ryan team, which resulted in down-ticket Republicans being slaughtered across the state. The chief apologist was lawyer, lobbyist, ex-private prison executive, political consultant, and long-time Christie confidante, Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci.
In a long speech Palatucci talked a lot about lawn signs and why we didn’t have any in New Jersey. He tried several explanations before finally blaming the Romney campaign, which the National Committeeman seems to believe exercised control over the federal PAC account of the NJGOP.
In another try, Palatucci attempted to persuade those present that the money that could have been used to pay for lawn signs in a federal presidential election had to be diverted to help fund a state legislative race. Maybe I wasn’t following him, but I hope he wasn’t copping a plea to comingling. He was all over the place.
At one point, Palatucci praised New Jersey for raising $ 3 million of what he said was Mitt Romney’s $800 million campaign. Are those numbers right?
Happily, the NJGOP videotaped the entire meeting. It was convoluted, so if I got anything wrong, it can be easily cleared up by putting up the unedited video on the NJGOP’s website. Then everyone can experience it.
As of October 17, 2012, the NJGOP’s federal PAC account held more than $460,000 but there was little evidence of any federal campaign in New Jersey. As any first-time campaign manager knows, when there is no heat generated by the marquee race, turnout is depressed. The result was disastrous for candidates further down the ticket, New Jersey was one of only a small handful of states where President Obama increased his percentage of votes won.
Some members blushed when the Treasurer’s Report showed that the NJGOP’s state account had more than $600,000 while Republicans were being gutted up and down the state. Bergen County lost two Republicans on the Freeholder Board, causing Republicans to lose control of the Board. In Cumberland County, Democrats sweep two Freeholder seats, with the loss of Republican control there as well. Democrats had a three-seat sweep of the Passaic County Freeholder Board - defeating the three incumbent Republicans who ran and won on Christie’s coattails in 2009. The Board is now 7-0 Democrats. In Burlington County Democrats swept two Freeholder seats, leaving Republicans clinging to a 3-2 majority. In Atlantic County, Democrats defeated an incumbent At-large Republican Freeholder. Republicans still hold a 7-2 majority there. In once rock-ribbed GOP Somerset County, it looks like Republicans have barely held on to two Freeholder seats.
The NJGOP was flush with cash this year but instead of using it for voter contact, it appears to have spent much of the money on overhead, travel, and food. According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the New Jersey Republican State Committee raised more than $2 million this year for its non-federal account and burnt through more than $2.5 million. For instance, in the period between April 1 and June 30, 2012, the NJGOP spent nearly $60,000 just to pay credit card charges for travel, hotels, food, meetings, and the like - and this was way before the Republican National Convention.
For those of you who wonder what the lawn sign controversy was all about, you can read the e-mail I sent to the NJGOP and National Committeeman Palatucci’s response, below:
From: Rob Eichmann [mailto:robeichmannxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 6:48 PM
To: Samuel S Raia; ‘xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx’
Subject: What is going on with our State Committee?
Dear Chairman Raia,
This past Friday (September 21, 2012) I sent you an e-mail regarding New Jersey’s (lack of) participation in the upcoming election for President of the United States (see attachment), and the impact of that (lack of) participation on the Republican ticket statewide. I don’t think you would argue that this is the most important Presidential election in many our lifetimes. Our country needs the leadership of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and they need the support of both houses of Congress, something that cannot be accomplished without a victory for Joe Kyrillos against the collectivist Bob Menendez. My e-mail to you was in regards to lawn signs and literature for the Romney-Ryan ticket and why we do not have either in New Jersey.
Your response was that Amanda DePalma would call me on Monday, September 24, 2012. I have not heard from her. Instead, a State Committee staffer called me late this afternoon and wanted to know if I would be attending the Governor’s fundraiser on Monday night in Short Hills. She told me that tickets were $75.00 for general admission or $1,500.00 for a private reception with the Governor.
I politely asked her when we would be getting lawn signs and literature for the Romney-Ryan campaign. She said she wished she could tell me, but that she didn’t think we would be getting any at all. I told her that was unacceptable.
Mr. Chairman, is New Jersey really going to be the only state in the country not to participate in the Presidential election on November 6? How is it possible that we will have no lawn signs and no literature for our Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates?
This would be the first time in my lifetime that New Jersey has decided to sit out a Presidential campaign. Why? Who or what does that benefit? This only hurts every other Republican appearing on the ballot from Joe Kyrillos, to Leonard Lance, to Jon Runyan, and yes even Scott Garrett.
To my knowledge, no other state in America is choosing to not participate in this year’s election. To my knowledge, no other state in America has ever chosen not to participate in a Presidential election in my lifetime.
With Governor Christie having such a prominent role in the Romney-Ryan campaign, as well as spending time touring the country for other Republicans, why are we in New Jersey unable to support the candidacy of Joe Kyrillos and other Republicans right here in New Jersey? After all, the Governor showed all of us, that as Republicans we can win here. His popularity and job approval both remain above 50%. Senator Menendez, a collectivist, is very vulnerable and we have a chance to win a United States Senate seat we haven’t won since 1972. Why aren’t we playing to win?
In New Jersey our electorate is begging for lawn signs and literature - neither of which are big expenditures - and yet for some reason someone is choosing not to participate. As a State Committee member I find this unacceptable, not to mention a dereliction of our elected duty.
Instead of a call from Amanda, or a discussion with you, I get asked for more money - to be spent on what? Obviously not the election, the most important election of our lifetime, on November 6th.
It deeply saddens me that this is what our party has become in New Jersey. Is this how you want your time as Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee to be remembered?
Gloucester County Republican State Committeeman
On Sep 27, 2012, at 11:09 AM, Bill Palatucci <wpalatuccixxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Just another update on Monday evening - calls are streaming in to NJGOP office so it will be a great success. Folks have read the new Monmouth poll which has the Gov at an all-time high approval rating and want to be with him to celebrate on Monday evening. See you all there!
Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android
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