Lee S. Lichtenberger, a former Hudson County Republican Chairman who served during a brief resurgence of the Hudson GOP in the 1980’s, passed away on Friday evening. He was 66.
He was elected Secaucus Republican Municipal Chairman in 1978 and was an unsuccessful candidate for Hudson County Freeholder.
He was elected Hudson County Republican Chairman in 1984, defeating incumbent Gene Macri by a vote of 291 to 95.
That year, President Ronald Reagan carried Hudson County and Republicans elected two freeholders: Roger Dorian and Octavio Alfonso.
In 1985, Gov. Tom Kean won Hudson County in his re-election bid. On his coattails, Hudson County elected four Assemblymen: Frank Gargiulo and Charles Catrillo in the 32nd district, and Jose Arango and Ronald Dario in the 33rd.
When Catrillo challenged State Sen. Thomas Cowan (D-Jersey City) in 1987, Lichtenberger teamed up with Gargiulo to seek the open Assembly seat. He lost by 11,981 votes to Democrats Anthony Impreveduto and David Kronick.
In 1988, he was replaced as county chairman by Aaron Schulman, an ally of Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann.
Lichtenberger, who had moved to North Bergen, ran for Town Commissioner on a slate that included Arango. They were swamped by the slate of Mayor Nicholas Sacco, losing by a margin of more than 2-1.
He served as the Republican State Committeeman from Hudson County from 1989 to 2009.
“Lee was the Chairman that opened the doors to me and many other future GOP leaders in New Jersey,” said Arango, who is now the Hudson County GOP chairman. “We became brothers and he will be sorely missed.”
This story was updated at 8:11 PM on December 29 to include comment from Arango.