Newly-elected Morris County Republican Chairman Ron DeFilippis held a meeting Tuesday night at GOP headquarters in Morristown with some of his countywide candidates. DeFilippis told his slate that the party is essentially out of money – at least until their July 1 fundraiser at Yankee Stadium, or whenever Bob Hugin comes through with a $37,000 check.
One of DeFilippis’ proposals is to create a mediation panel to go into towns where Republican factions are feuding and broker some sort of peace accord. Morris GOP insiders view the plan as unrealistic, especially for a chairman that won his own race by four votes last week.
Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi was not in attendance; her deputy, John Wojtaszek, was there to represent her. That creates a new problem for Grossi: she has recused herself from election matters because she is on the ballot this year and turned over the election portion of her office to Wojtaszek, who then attends a campaign meeting as a Grossi campaign official and strategist.
This isn’t the first time the embattled county clerk has put the not-recused Wojtaszek into her re-election campaign: checks to Grossi’s campaign for her annual Cinco de Mayo party are being sent to Wojtaszek’s home.
The other controversy from the Tuesday night meeting was the announcement that political consultant King Penna would be running the county’s ground campaign. Penna has had some issues with Morris County Republicans in the past, and DeFilippis’ announcement that he as bringing Penna on board was not well received. Neither was DeFilippis’ announcement that the two defeated candidates for freeholder, incumbent John Cesaro and congressional aide Aura Dunn, have been named to chair campaign committees.
DeFilippis promised the candidates that his team would take care of making 200,000 phone calls and knock on 100,000 doors for the general election.
Democrats are fighting for their first countywide win since 1973, and Republicans leaders – though not necessarily DeFilippis – are acknowledging that Morris is now politically competitive.
Gov. Phil Murphy will be headline a Morris Democratic fundraiser in Mountain Lakes tonight.
Editor’s note: DeFilippis and his supporters will likely respond with their “fake news” chant, as is their custom. This story is well-sourced and, in advance of the DeFilippis chant, we stand by our report.