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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin, left, with Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) in September 2018. New Jersey Globe Photo.

Schepisi endorses Pallotta for Congress

Bergen assemblywoman goes against Bergen GOP line

By David Wildstein, May 19 2020 9:20 am

Assembly Assistant Minority Leader Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) has endorsed investment banker Frank Pallotta for the GOP nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 5th district.

“I am proud to endorse Frank Pallotta in his fight to unseat Josh Gottheimer,” Schepisi said.  “Frank’s business-style approach is exactly what we need to restore conservative leadership in Washington.  He is currently the strongest Republican candidate in the race to win this November and he has my unequivocal support.”

Schepisi’s endorsement puts her at odds with the Bergen County Republican Organization, which has endorsed former Cresskill Councilman John McCann for the chance to take on Gottheimer.

The five-term assemblywoman, who had been recruited to run for the House seat in the last two elections, praised Pallotta’s career in finance, his strong family and community values, and his “dynamic personality.”

“He has proven that he will be a hands-on, proactive representative for the residents of district 5,” Schepisi noted.

Pallotta has the organization line in Passaic County, and has the endorsement of Sussex County Republican Chairman Jerry Scanlan and all five Sussex freeholders.  Warren County Republicans have not made any formal endorsement.

More than half (56%) of the 2018 primary election votes in the 5th came from Bergen County.  Warren makes up 13% of the GOP primary votes in the 5th, while Sussex is 23% and Passaic is 7%.

The Republicans had started off with a crowded field, but the contest narrowed down to Pallotta and McCann after Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan), Montvale Mayor Michael Ghassali, Closter Mayor John Glidden, and Dana DiRisio, a ten-year aide to Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage), dropped out.

Teacher James Baldini and perennial candidate Hector Castillo are also seeking the Republican nomination.

Gottheimer, the human fundraising machine, faces Glen Rock Councilwoman Arati Kreibich in the July 7 Democratic primary.

Donald Trump carried New Jersey’s 5th district by one percentage point in 2016– a 4,089-vote plurality.  The district has 8,524 more Democrats than Republicans.

That’s a shift from a GOP registration advantage of 2,370 on Election Day 2016 when Gottheimer, a former Clinton White House speechwriter and Microsoft executive, ousted seven-term Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage) in 2016 by a 51%-47% margin.

Gottheimer had nearly $7.9 million cash-on-hand when he field his 1st quarter Federal Election Commission report last month.
Pallotta said he was honored to win Schepisi’s endorsement.

“I have gotten to know her over the past year and find her to be the epitome of a public servant,” he stated.  “She truly cares about her constituents and works tirelessly to deliver common-sense governance in Trenton.”

Schepisi, a former River Vale township attorney, won the 39th district Assembly seat in 2011 after Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk (R-Montvale) retired.

Democrats have targeted her for defeat twice, but without success.

She won in 2017 by 5,032 votes, and by 5,807 votes in 2019.

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