In a closed-door caucus of the Morris County Board of Freeholders on Saturday, Freeholder Douglas Cabana appears to have secured a third consecutive term as freeholder director.
Cabana defeated freeholder Deborah Smith by a 4-3 vote, a vote that further splinters the county Republican organization.
The swing vote was freeholder Heather Darling, who had initially been viewed as a Smith vote but ended up backing Cabana. That news was delivered to Smith just before the meeting.
According to several sources, all who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Cabana had the support freeholders Tom Mastrangelo and Kathryn DeFillippo, while Smith had the votes of freeholders-elect John Krickus and Steve Shaw.
A formal vote will be conducted in January when the new freeholders are sworn in and the board holds their reorganization meeting.
Traditionally, the freeholder director post is rotated among it’s seven members after one or two years.
Smith was reportedly offered the deputy director post but turned it down. That job will now go to Darling.
Cabana is seeking re-election to a ninth term as freeholder next year and is expected to run on a ticket with Mastrangelo and DeFillippo. Donald Dinsmore, a former Assembly staffer and Christie administration official, is challenging them.
Smith was the top vote-getter in her bid for re-election on November 6. She ran on a GOP primary slate with Krickus and Shaw, defeating incumbent John Cesaro and Aura Dunn, an aide to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.
Republicans have not lost a freeholder race in 46 years, but Morris is suddenly becoming more politically competitive.
The split on the freeholder board further complicates an increasingly toxic political environment in Morris County, where Republican County Chairman Ron DeFilippis has no close political allies on the seven-member freeholder board
Sources say that DeFilippis, who won by just four votes last June, is mulling an end to the tradition of open primaries in Morris County and is considering a convention to pick candidates to run on an organization line. That’s something DeFilippis pledged to oppose during his run for chairman.