Former Bergen County GOP chairman Bob Yudin today sharply criticized the organization he led for eight years for welcoming back Michael Saudino, saying the Republican-turned-Democrat former sheriff was a rat and a racist.
The New Jersey Globe first reported that Saudino was returning to the Republicans, where he won races for sheriff in 2010 and 2013 before switching to the Democratic to win a third term in 2016.
Yudin said he was not surprised when Saudino was forced to resign last September after getting caught on tape making racist and homophobic remarks.
“His remarks were a true reflection of Saudino,” Yudin told the New Jersey Globe, repeating what he wrote in a letter to the editor for The (Bergen) Record last year. “I’m appalled that (Bergen GOP chairman) Jack Zisa would allow him back unto the party.”
Yudin said that for Zisa “to take a traitor back shows the depth of deprivation the Republicans have come to.”
Yudin recalled that Saudino insisted he was not switching parties to seek re-election in 2016 “right up to the last day” and said he found out just hours before the sheriff made his announcement that he would seek his third term as a Democrat.
“I found it extremely troubling,” Yudin said. “He did it for one reason and one reason only. He did it to get re-elected. He was an absolute traitor to the Republican Party for personal gain.”
In s statement released today, Saudino announced that he was returning to the GOP because he could not support Gov. Phil Murphy’s liberal agenda.
“As a career law enforcement official who has worked to protect the public, I simply cannot be part of or support the policies of a governor that are destructive to the fabric of our communities,” said Saudino.
Saudino accused Murphy of blocking the ability of local law enforcement to working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and bowing to pressure from progressives to not accept ICE inmates in county jails as the reason for his switch.
“I cannot support a governor and an administration that lay out the red carpet for illegal aliens and refuse to help federal agencies enforce U.S. law,” said Saudino. “And I know a lot of Democrats who feel the same way.”
Zisa said he was pleased to welcome Saudino back to the Bergen County Republican organization.
“Mike served his community and the county well and he has many supporters in Bergen County,” Zisa said. “I believe he can bring experience and insights in how to win a county-wide race and I look forward to him helping our freeholder team.”
Yudin was county chairman from 2008 until he lost re-election to Paul DiGaetano in 2016. He blamed DiGaetano and Zisa for the party’s failures, saying that candidates for countywide office are losing by “tens and tens of thousands of votes.”
“The leadership now under Zisa shows total bankruptcy,” Yudin said. “It’s leadership for personal gain.”
The former chairman urged county committee members to stand up to Zisa and “make it clear Saudino is not welcome.”
“Zisa bringing Saudino back is like George Washington bringing back Benedict Arnold, except Jack Zisa is no George Washington,” Yudin said.