Morris County Democratic Chairman Chip Robinson will resign next month, setting up a special election within the next few weeks to fill his seat.
The leading candidate to replace him is Amalia Duarte, a two-term Mendham Township Committeewoman and a former newspaper reporter.
Also resigning are vice chair Robin Gurin, along with Robinson’s entire executive board. The resignations, which have not yet occurred, will be effective with the election of new officers. Publicly, Robinson is saying his departure is tied to spend more time at his full-time job.
“It is my hope that we elect a woman to be the next Chair of the Morris County Democrats. Morris County Democrats have never had a female chair in their history. Women have been the backbone of Morris County and have powered the success of MCDC during my tenure as Chair. A large majority of our committee is now female,” Robinson said. ” I hope to help my successor build on the success we have had at the congressional and local levels and help achieve our ultimate goal of winning countywide offices.”
Democratic State Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. confirmed that Robinson notified him of his intent to step down this morning
“We look forward to working with the new team to make the leadership transition as seamless as possible, and to continue the gains we have made for Democrats across Morris County,” Robinson said.
From Paris, Gov. Phil Murphy saluted Robinson’s eight-year tenure as county chairman.
“Chairman Chip Robinson has been a tremendous leader in Morris County. Under his stewardship, the party has seen incredible gains, including winning all statewide seats, picking up two congressional seats representing the county, and making strong gains in local elections,” Murphy said. “He’s been a partner in all of the success we’ve had, and I look forward to his continued engagement as we continue to move Morris County forward.”
But Robinson’s exit is the culmination of months of criticism of his leadership in Morris County. Many Democrats blamed him for recruiting a personal friend, A.J. Oliver, to run for county commissioner last year without disclosing that Oliver was a pro-life activist.
Oliver was ousted from his post as Morristown Democratic Municipal Chairman and switched to the Republican Party this week.
Some Democrats also disapproved of Robinson’s decision to remove Dover Alderman Edward Correa from the organization line and to deny party support to Correa’s candidates for county committee. Correa is the municipal chairman.
Last year, Democrats lost the crown jewel of Morris County politics when Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano was narrowly defeated for re-election.
While Democrats have not won a countywide race in Morris County since 1973, Robinson does get credit for a surge of municipal victories in recent years.
He became the full-time political director of the Morris County Democrats in 2001 at age 22. He later became executive director before winning a race for county chairman in 2014 against Mary Dougherty.
Robinson he was “grateful for all of the hard work my team has put into making Morris County more Democratic.”
“I am proud of all the gains we have made in electing Democratic candidates at all levels, from flipping two congressional seats in 2018, to President Biden’s Morris County win in 2020, to winning municipal seats throughout the county. We have nearly double the municipal seats that we had nearly a decade ago when I first became Chair and control over significantly more towns,” Robinson said. “More importantly, I am humbled by the trust Morris County Democrats have put in our team these last eight years. ”
Jones praised Robinson for his service.
“I want to thank Chairman Robinson and his entire team for their extraordinary service to Morris County these past few years. It is because of their leadership that Morris County made gains in some very Republican places and carried the county for Joe Biden in 2020,” said Jones. “Through their hard work, Morris County has seen record Democratic registrations and turnout over the last 5 years, has flipped two congressional seats, and worked hard to deliver a win for Governor Murphy.”
Robinson was also complimented by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), who represent Morris County in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Chairman Robinson has always expressed that Morris County holds a bright future for Democrats. He has brought a keen understanding of the possibilities at every level of the county, and has made important progress, especially over the last several years. Chip was instrumental in my election in 2018, flipping Morris County blue for the first time in over thirty years. I am grateful for his leadership and thank him for his long-time dedication and service to the Morris County Democrats.”
Rep. Tom Malinowski also gave credit to a surge by Morris Democrats to Robinson.
“Chip Robinson has been an effective and collaborative leader who harnessed grassroots energy to grow Morris County’s Democratic Party, deliver a strong majority for President Biden, and flip two Congressional seats, achievements that few imagined were even possible before he took the reins as county chair,” he said. “I am grateful for his friendship and support and wish him the very best in everything he does.”