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State Sen. Gerald Cardinale. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Cardinale ally releases strategy he gave late senator on 39th district

By David Wildstein, March 07 2021 5:34 pm

The following is a letter sent by longtime Bergen County Republican leader Bob Taschler to members of the GOP County Committee:

On Feb 7, Sen. Cardinale called me and asked for an analysis of the 2021 primary and general in November. Here is a summary and an addendum on the state of the LD39 situation.


The purpose of a political party is to recruit candidates and win elections. The current Republican leadership has consistently failed to win elections and gain seats. In Bergen County there is nobody who knows how to win an election more than Gerry Cardinale did.

For 40 years the democrats have been trying to defeat Gerry Cardinale and failed each and every time. I can only imagine how delighted they were to hear that he would face a primary and from somebody who he had helped get into office less than a decade before.

When he began, Gerry took this district away from the democrats. He did not inherit any voters from a mentor. Over time he built a very strong and loyal conservative constituency. So strong that he could wear a red MAGA hat in public and still get elected. Most of the other NJ Republican candidates were running away from President Trump and they got slaughtered. You all know their names.

LESSON #1: Gerry understood that you must always be loyal to your base no matter what.

So in a straight match-up between Gerry Cardinale and Holly Schepisi, Republican voters would have remained loyal to Senator Cardinale. Holly Schepisi would have lost most of those conservative voters many of whom would have seen Holly Schepisi’s move as stabbing Gerry in the back or at very least filled with ingratitude. She would have only retained a rather small number of the liberal, pro-abortion Republicans who follow her social media posts.

Gerry would have gone on to win in November. His base would have remained loyal and would be even more motivated because of the actions taken by the democrats in Trenton and Washington. Murphy and the dems would be too busy playing defense over the Nursing Home Massacre and the slow COVID vaccine roll-out.

It truly baffles me why Holly Schepisi decided to primary Gerry. It was a politically clumsy move. All she had to do was wait another cycle. I guess she was impatient. Holly wanted what she wanted and she wanted it now. In so doing, she has split our party. Have we not learned that a house divided against itself can not endure or do we just want to hand LD39 to the democrats on a silver platter? If Holly Schepisi was so sure of herself she could have moved to LD38 and challenged the dems there. Instead she wanted to conquer territory that had already been conquered. In the military that is called firing upon one’s own position.


Unfortunately Senator Cardinale has passed and now the County Committee has to select someone to fill out his term of office. Obviously Holly Schepisi is still in the race, but Bob Auth has stepped up. So who to choose?

The objective is to pick the candidate who is most likely to win in November. It should not be about ideology, identity, friendship or even money. Bob Hugin spent millions on his race and lost by the same margin that Kim Guadagno lost. It needs to be about understanding who can succeed in November and why.

First, I think you know that Gerry would have picked Bob Auth. The reason is that Bob Auth will be able to retain the conservative base that Gerry built whereas Holly Schepisi has damaged that bond.

Also Bob knows how to campaign and campaign hard. When Bob ran for the seat that was vacated by Bob Schroeder he ran against a half dozen credible people and won two conventions, NERO and LD39. For more than 20 years Bob was out greeting voters with Gerry at bus stops in the wee hours of the morning and would not stop until well after diner.


On social media Bob is usually talking about others and not himself. He does not post photos that look like they should be in the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. His image is not one of white privilege.

As far as I can find Bob Auth has no vulnerabilities that the dems can use against him other than he is a very consistent conservative loyal to his base.

Holly Schepisi has two that will cost her votes in November.

  1. Having turned on Gerry who was her mentor. Many Cardinale voters will just sit on their hands.
  2. The separation from Holy Name Hospital.

A while back Holly Schpisi decided that she no longer wanted to practice law so used her connections to get an executive job at Holy Name Hospital, I believe in Development, which is fundraising.  Basically keep in contact with the rich and famous, go to cocktail parties, and raise money … sounds a lot like being a political candidate.Suddenly her name was dropped from the website and there was no explanation. Rumors began to swirl. I have heard several, but no official explanation from Holly Schepisi or Holy Name Hospital. One thing is for sure: THE DEMOCRATS KNOW and they will use it against her. By contrast the democrats will be fielding a candidate who has been credited with saving a hospital in Bayonne from financial ruin.

LESSON #2: If there is any bad news, tell it yourself, tell it first and tell it far and wide. Don’t try to hide it.

If Holly Schepisi is so strong and Bob Auth is so weak, why is Holly and the Republican leadership trying to buy Bob Auth off?


So now I see that Chairman Jack Zisa has once again put his finger on the scale by making an endorsement.

Instead of trying to maintain a level playing field he wishes to impose his judgement upon you the members of the County Committee. The last time that Jack Zisa picked a winner was when he asked the County Committee to elect Paul DiGaetano and looked how well that turned out. And Jack, as nice a fellow as he is, has continued to lead Republicans from one loss to another with record loss margins.

LESSON #3: If you want to win elections first recruit or develop more registered Republicans.

Then according to a news website Zisa calls Bob Auth to a sit-down to face a team to pressure him to drop out. That sounds pretty desperate on Holly Schepisi’s part. She would rather have it handed to her than compete for it. Funny given that she started this mess by challenging Gerry Cardinale but wants to avoid being challenged by Bob Auth.

Then, according to the story, they issue a press release without Bob Auth’s approval. Pretty classy move, huh?

Let me repeat a prior statement:

The purpose of a political party is to recruit candidates and win elections.

I am not sure that our party can overcome the damage caused by Holly Schepisi’s decision and Jack Zisa’s leadership. It may be too late

Now you have a decision. You can reward Holly Schepisi’s behavior and punish Bob Auth for being loyal or you can do what Gerry would have done.

After all Gerry knew how to win elections.


Bob T.


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