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?


Rob Eichmann

Gloucester County Republican State Committeeman

The reply:

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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  1. Didn't Save Jersey says:

    Rob, I don’t think the NJGOP likes you…..and why should they, you tell the truth.

    Funny how this Govenor ran as the guy who was “going to call it like it is”, and was the new sheriff in town who was going to clean up NJ.

    Christie has lost 75% of his operational grassroots base from 2009. His ego however thinks that’s OK because he has all of the people fooled. It’s going to be interesting when he has to start dealing with local media again.

    It’s odd how people like you (I don’t know you) seem to be involved for the right reasons are the very people disliked. It’s amazing how the wrong people have the most influence. And Christie has only made it worse, not better.

    Christie can never, will never be accused of party building, ever. But he should be accused of burning bridges locally, statewide and nationally, not in the name of making the political system and government better, rather in the name of his own ego.

  2. Kathy Kilcommons says:

    Thank you, Rob, for attending these kinds of meetings so we don’t have to. Your letter was great.

    During the 2011 campaign my running mates and I never saw ANY kind of support from NJGOP. They shall receive the same from me in the future. Not one dime donated, not one minute of time, not one finger lifted.

    The party is long dead in this state, if not the country. I’m wondering if it might not be a good thing, a blessing in disguise, that we depart from the two party system as George Washington warned us about.

  3. Save Camden says:

    Chris Christie and the NJGOP are reckless, greedy, two face jerks.

    As Kathy just said, they shall receive what they gave, which is nothing.

    I’m done with NJ. Chris Christie was suppose to make it better, and all he has done is feathered his own political and financial nest!

  4. Donny Dee says:

    Despite all your complaining and bellyaching Chris Christie is the most popular Governor in the history of New Jersey, and the question isn’t whether his re-election margin exceeds that of Tom Kean in 1985 but by how much. Not only does Chris Christie enjoy overwhelming support by Republicans and Independents, but even a near majority of Democrats support his re-election.

    The good news is that not only will Chris Christie devour his opponent, his coattails will sweep Republicans to majorities in both houses of the Legislature. Get used to saying “Senate President Tom Kean Jr.” and “Assembly Speaker Jon Bramnick”.

    In the final analysis you all can moan and groan about Chris Christie and the State GOP, but you’ll all wake up and smell the coffee as we get closer to the election because you all have no place else to go, and no other credible candidates to support.

  5. Jimmy says:

    You always were a big windbag Donny. What happened to you when you ran for Governor and said you had it all locked up? All the dirt came out. Chicks were only part of it.

    George H.W. Bush was the most popular President of all time in November 1991 and then he got beat in November 1992. Did you forget that Donny? Are we having a senior moment?

    Win or lose Christie will have no coattails because we all know that he has cut a deal with George Norcross so that no strong republicans will run in any of the south Jersey districts that we need to win to have a snowball’s chance in hell of electing a Republican Speaker or Senate President. You work for Norcross so you know the deal. Stop pretending that you don’t you womanizing pos.

    The last time you woke up and smelled anything was the night Bret Schundler was asking you how you liked them apples. No, that was Bobby. You had quit by then. Loser.

  6. Roger Stryeski says:

    Has anyone else notice a rise in voter registration. Union County had a rise of 7.5% and my Roselle had one of 15.4%.

    I might be accused of skylarking but the Dems used this year as a rehearsal for 2013. They were getting their ducks in a row despite assured victories on the statewide level.