Michael Donohue, who stepped down as a Superior Court judge earlier this year, will seek a return to his old post as Cape May County Republican Chairman.
He would face incumbent Marcus Karavan, who had announced the he would seek re-election to the post he’s held since 2016 when the county GOP organization reorganizes in July.
“I am still the honest, dedicated, hardworking chairman you all know,” Donohue said today in an email to county committee members. “I still have that same singular focus on the advancement of our mutual interests with energy, enthusiasm and respect. We need the best Cape GOP we can have.
Sources told the New Jersey Globe that Donohue’s entrance into the race could affect Karavan’s decision. It’s possible that their could be an orderly transition without a vote, the Globe has learned.
Karavan did not respond to a 4:23 PM text message and call to his cell phone seeking comment.
Donohue said that he and Karavan were unable to work out a deal.
“He spent all day yesterday calling of you and saying I was a no good SOB,” Donohue told party leaders. “This isn’t petty, and it isn’t personal. I tried as hard as I could. Marc and I had an agreement. He would remain the chairman and I would be a partner in the organization and what we do.”
Based on their agreement, Donohue endorsed Karavan for re-election at the Cape May GOP convention in March.
“After that, crickets,” he said, criticizing Karavan for being a passive chairman times that call for more aggressive leadership.
Donohue had been serving as county chairman when Gov. Chris Christie nominated him to a judgeship in 2015. Karavan won a special election to replace him.
“There have been some great election wins and our Organization deserves credit for that, but we need to put the laughter back in,” the retired judge said. “We need to put the cheer back in. We need to erase this focus on status and standing and get back to the good old grassroots and blue-collar enthusiasm we once had.”
Karavan has already won endorsements from Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Middle) and State Sen. Michael Testa (R-Vineland), the Cumberland County Republican Chairman.
It’s not clear whether Donohue’s entrance into the race changes that.
“As your Chairman, I always put our candidates and our organization first. I always tried to be responsive to everyone from the highest ranking elected official to the newest campaign volunteer,” said Donohue. “For me there was no job too small for me to roll up my sleeves and do. There was no person too small either. There was nothing that you wanted that I wouldn’t fight for. We fought hard and had fun doing it.”
This story was updated at 2:41 PM.