Montvale mayor Michael Ghassali has dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination for Conrgess in New Jersey’s 5th district and has endorsed John McCann.
The announcement follows a decision of county chairman Jack Zisa to award the Bergen organization line to McCann, the winner of the screening committee vote held before the county GOP convention was cancelled.
“Because of the current situation with the Coronavirus, there will not be a convention, which we were preparing for and getting ready for,” Ghassali said. “We had a robust campaign with (sic) grassroot, ground work and online presence second to none. To all my volunteers and supporters, I want to tell you that I gave it my best shot and worked hard to achieve great results readying us to take back the 5th congressional district. But without the Bergen line, I don’t see a path to winning the primary, and therefore I am suspending my campaign.”
I am endorsing and supporting John McCann. We have to work together as one team, unit behind our candidate and provide him with the tools he needs to win in November.
May God bless you all during these incredible times and may God bless OUR United States of America
That narrows the once crowded field of Republicans looking to take on Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) to just two major contenders: McCann and Frank Pallotta, an investment banker from Mahwah.
Teacher John Baldini and perennial candidate Hector Castillo are also running in the GOP primary.
Ghassali has stopped campaigning two weeks ago, citing his local responsibilities in combating the spread of coronavirus.
He has suspended his campaign ads and shut down his campaign headquarters, he told the Globe. He also let his paid campaign staff go.
About two weeks ago, Ghassali also parted ways with his campaign manager, Rich Castaldo.
“A big shootout to the campaign kitchen cabinet members, campaign manager Rich Castaldo and to all the staff. The great people at 970 AM, The Answer, Liquid Lunch, the great patriot Johnathan Gilliam, and all the media friends I made along the way,” Ghassali said. “Many thanks to all those who voted for me at the policy meeting, and continue to encourage me as we move forward.”
Ghassali had reported raising $861,900 in 2019 with $728,88 cash-on-hand. Of that, $600,000 came in the form of a personal loan Ghassali made to his campaign.
There is speculation that Ghassali has spent what he has raised from donors and wants to avoid using his own money to win the Republican primary.