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Former Morris County Freeholder David Scapicchio. (Photo: Via Linkedin)

Former Morris freeholders appeal to block Saturday’s GOP convention

Judge dismissed their case, ordered them to pay legal fees Monday

By Nikita Biryukov, February 04 2021 6:03 pm

Update: Appellate Court Judge Richard Geiger summarily denied the application to file an emergent motion Wednesday evening.

Two former Morris County GOP freeholders filed for an emergency appeal in an attempt to block the county’s Republican organization from holding a Saturday convention on adopting an organizational line.

The filing submitted by David Scapicchio and John Sette, who ran the county Republican organization for 17 years, repeats claims that the Feb. 6 convention was not properly noticed.

Morris County Superior Court Judge Maritza Berdote Byrne on Monday ruled the MCRC properly noticed its meeting and dismissed the former freeholders’ suit, also ordering them to pay legal fees.

The judge temporarily blocked an earlier convention slated for Jan. 16 after Sette and Scapicchio sued to block it the day before. Because of the time constraints, Berdote Byrne made her ruling without hearing from the Republican organization or its chair, Laura Ali.

The appeal repeats claims that the MCRC violated its own bylaws by not presenting the proposed amendments to the entire committee, but those bylaws allow it to run such proposals before its executive committee without mounting a full convention.

Republican leaders in Morris, including Ali and State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville), among others, want the party to adopt an organizational line to ensure strong candidates win primaries as Democratic strength in the county grows.

Sette, Scapicchio and their allies, which include two other former Morris GOP chairs, argue it’s a bid to centralize power that will dissuade new, particularly young, Republicans from seeking office.

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