Five days after Morris County Republican chairman Ron DeFilippis said that Rockaway Township Republican mayor Michael Puzio “definitely has to go,” two prominent Republicans attended a fundraiser to help Puzio raise money for his primary battle with council president Tucker Kelley.
Puzio put photographs of deputy county clerk John Wojtaszek and Parsippany GOP vice chair John Cesaro attending his fundraiser on his campaign Facebook page.
Puzio is taking heat for endorsing Democrat Mikie Sherrill for Congress last year and for backing Republican-turned-Democrat William Schievella for sheriff this year against incumbent James Gannon.
“Mayor Puzio’s actions are reprehensible,” DeFilippis said Saturday in an e-mail chain with other GOP leaders obtained by the New Jersey Globe. “He will never receive a nickel from MCRC.
Wojtaszek, a former Rockaway mayor who works for county clerk Ann Grossi, defended his right to attend Puzio’s fundraiser.
“I’m an average citizen. I have a right to do whatever a citizen can do,” Wojtaszek told the New Jersey Globe. “I’m also a (Republican) committeeman. I live in Rockaway Township. I pay taxes in Rockaway Township. I love Rockaway Township.”
Wojtaszek was the Democratic mayor before his recall in 1986. He backed DeFilippis for county chairman. Schievella was a Republican councilman before switching parties.
Cesaro, a former freeholder and Parsippany councilman, was named by DeFilippis as the Morris GOP director of community outreach. He is considered a member of the executive team but does not have a vote on the executive board.
DeFilippis has not formally endorsed a candidate for mayor in the June 4 Republican primary, but his advocacy of ousting Puzio can be interpreted as support for Kelley.