The Republican National Committeeman from New Jersey appears to taking sides in a divisive campaign for Morris County Republican Chairman.
Palatucci has waded in to the fight between Ron DeFilippis and Rob Zwigard by issuing a statement supporting the legitimacy of a political action committee operated by former Morris County GOP Chairman John Sette, a Zwigard supporter. The DeFilippis camp has alleged that the Morris County Victory PAC had coordinated their activities with county and local candidates. InsiderNJ has reported that a complaint calling the PAC illegal was filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission and that Zwigard was part of the group that runs the PAC.
“I have reviewed the records of MRVP and I find that it is 100% legal,” Palatucci said in a statement, as if he was some independent arbiter of authenticity, followed by a vintage Palatucci attack. “It is unfortunate that fellow Republicans would hide behind an ‘anonymous’ veil to attempt to blemish this organization that continues to do great work in moving the Republican Party forward.”
Sette says that Palatucci’s role with the PAC is unrelated to the county chair election.
“Zwigard has no official connection to the PAC. There is no connection to Palatucci endorsing him,” Sette said. “Bill was just helping us out.”
A post of Zwigard’s Facebook page in December 2017 says it’s “an honor and privilege for me to be named executive director” of the Morris County Republican Victory PAC.
The larger issue here is that Palatucci is looking ahead to his own re-election fight for his seat on the Republican National Committee. With Chris Christie no longer in a position to dictate who gets the seat, sources say that Palatucci might struggle to get 22 votes on the 42-member New Jersey Republican State Committee to win another term. Palatucci has never been the most popular guy in a room of Republican insiders.
One source suggests that Palatucci’s support for Zwigard is just his way of looking to move Morris County’s two state committee votes into his own column in two years.
In post-Christie New Jersey, where Republicans are moved quickly to rebrand the state GOP, Palatucci remains a poster child for the way the former governor ran the party, one insider said.
Palatucci’s lifeline to another term as National Committeeman could come from Bob Hugin, his candidate for United States Senator. But Hugin would need to defeat incumbent Bob Menendez first.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include comment from former Morris County GOP Chairman John Sette.
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