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Bergen County Republican Chairman Jack Zisa.

Bergen GOP undecided about awarding organization line

Zisa says no online convention, a couple of days away from decision

By David Wildstein, March 23 2020 8:45 pm

The Bergen County Republican convention was supposed to be tonight, but the coronavirus-related cancellation has left some uncertainty about awarding the organization line.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to pull off a convention.,” Bergen GOP chairman Jack Zisa said.  “We don’t have enough email addresses to have a fair (online) ballot.”

Zisa has limited choices: award the organization line to the candidates who were recommended by the more than fifty members of the Bergen County Republican Policy Committee, or hold an open primary.

“We haven’t made a decision,” said Zisa.  “Hopefully sometime in the next day or two,”

That could benefit John McCann, a former Cresskill councilman who is seeking a rematch against Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Cresskill) in New Jersey’s 5th district.

McCann won the policy committee vote on March 11 by a 27 to 17 vote against investment banker Frank Pallotta, with 16 votes going to Montvale mayor Michael Ghassali.  Four other Republicans are seeking party support, including Closter mayor John Glidden.

“There is a lot at stake,” Zisa stated. “We intend to be victorious in November.”

Gottheimer beat McCann by 41,291 votes, 56%-42%, in 2018.

McCann won the nomination two years ago after defeating former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan in the GOP primary by 1,918 votes, 53%-47%.

Bergen County Republicans had also planned to endorse a U.S. Senate candidate.

The policy committee voted 41 to 12 to back former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official Rik Mehta over Hirsh Singh to run for the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Air Force veteran Billy Prempeh defeated Bergen County Young Republican vice chairman Tim Walsh as the suggested candidate to take on Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) in the 9th district.

He beat Walsh by a narrow 32 to 26 vote.

Zisa said he is in contact with Bergen County Clerk John Hogan over ballot design issues, especially if Gov. Phil Murphy opts for an all-VBM primary election.

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