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New Jersey Democratic State Vice Chair Peg Schaffer. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Somerset Democrats let slogan lapse, and GOP now owns it

By David Wildstein, April 05 2021 3:51 pm

It’s a page out of Kevin O’Toole’s playbook.

Somerset County Democrats allowed legal control of their own organization line slogan to lapse, with Republican County Chairman Tim Howes emerging as the new owner.

Howes registered “Somerset County Regular Democratic Organization” after his counterpart, Peg Schaffer, never renewed it.

Now Howes has told the county clerk, Steven Peter, that his board will “take expedited action to approve all reasonable requests for the slogan.”

The GOP chairman has pledged a “fair and open about which candidates will be permitted to use the slogan.”

“I would like to invite the Somerset County Democrat Party Chair Peg Schafer to meet with the Board to consider which requests will be approved, and the process that will be used to approve or deny such requests.”

Howes also gave Schaffer a Plan B: Democrats can make a $250 donation to “Moms Helping Moms,” a non-profit group that provides essential baby items to low income families.

“Happy Filing Day, and may the odds be ever in your favor,” Howes said.

O’Toole originated the move in 1996 when he incorporated the Essex County GOP slogan that allowed him to seize control of the county Republican organization from longtime chairman John Renna.

His successor, Al Barlas, did the same thing in 2017 when Bergen County Republican Chairman Paul DiGaetano sought to give himself the organization line for State Senate against Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa).

Last year, New Jersey Working Families Party state director seized the Camden County Democratic slogan.

The Camden Democratic slogan lapsed last year and Altman, the nemesis of Democratic powerbroker George Norcross, filed papers with the New Jersey Secretary of State to incorporate the Camden Democratic machine’s ballot slogan.

The slogan was eventually returned to the organization, but not before Altman had a little fun.

While working on Jim Florio’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2000, Democratic strategist Steve Ayscue employed a similar strategy when he incorporated the slogans of several North Jersey Demcoratic organizations backing Jon Corzine in the primary.

A Superior Court Judge rule that the move was too clever by a half, the New York Times reported.

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