An Englewood woman who has accused Gordon Johnson of making sexually inappropriate comments to her during a private meeting in 2008 is now mounting an off the line bid for the Republican State Senate nomination in the 37th legislative district.
Dierdre Paul has accused the party’s apparent pick for Senate, Michael Koontz, of being “belligerent and rude” and said Republicans referred to Vainieri Huttle as an “alley cat.”
“What does it say to voters if I permit his actions to go unchallenged?” Paul asked.
She said that circumstances of the 2021 campaign have changed since she submitted a letter of intent to run for the State Assembly prior to the February 1 filing deadline to win the organization line and subsequently decided to run for the open Senate seat.
“With every new day of the 2021 legislative election cycle, there was another twist and turn. It finally looked like LD37 might not be Bergen’s perennial kamikaze race for Republicans after all,” Paul said. “This election cycle was almost a once-in-a-lifetime kind of occurrence.”
Paul says that Bergen County Republican Chairman Jack Zisa asked that four candidates for three legislative seats – Edward Durfee and Perley Patrick – to try to work out an agreement on who would run in a district that hasn’t elected a Republican since it was created 48 years ago.
“Chairman Zisa told me that he honestly believed that I couldn’t beat Gordon Johnson,” Paul said in a letter to 37th district Republicans. “He chose to chastise me for leaving the ticket that Mr. Koontz would head, saying that I was making him run ‘three White guys.’”
Koontz, 68, is making his fifth bid for public office – and his first as a Republican.
He has run as an independent “NJ Conservative” candidate from the right against some of the state’s most conservative Republicans.
Koontz ran for State Senate against Gerald Cardinale in 1997, winning 1.7% of the vote in the 39th district. In 1998, he challenged Rep. Steve Rothman as a more conservative option to the GOP nominee, Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. He received less than one-half of one-percent. He received just 349 votes as an independent Assembly candidate in the 39th in 1999.
In 2001, Koontz ran as an independent conservative alternative to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler. He finished seventh in a field of nine candidates with 1,949 votes statewide, 0.09%, 1,254,285 votes behind the winner, Democrat James E. McGreevey.
POLITICO reported this month that Paul claimed Johnson hinted that Paul should become his “concubine” as a way of advancing her political career. Johnson has denied this, and his Democratic primary opponent, Vainieri Huttle, disputed Paul’s claim that she was told of the incident.
Zisa was not available for comment. Koontz did not immediately respond to a 2:20 PM message left on his cell phone.