Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's Civil War Inside the Bergen County Gop

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's Civil War Inside the Bergen County Gop

Article excerpt

IT IS CALLED a "come to Jesus" moment. That's when someone in authority tells you that you've been slacking off, that it's been noticed and if you enjoy the prospect of living to a rich old age, you better shape up fast.

If there's any chance Jesus may take a road trip to New Jersey, he should come to Bergen County and sit down with its Republican leaders. What is unfolding is part-Mack Sennett and part-"Mack the Knife."

Basically the county party is split into two factions: Those who support County Executive Kathleen Donovan and those loyal to the Republican county chairman, Bob Yudin. There are nuances to the allegiances, but they matter little. When County Administrator Ed Trawinski claims he has been threatened by Tom Toscano, the Republican municipal chairman of Hackensack, on the sidelines of a freeholder meeting, something is rotten in Bergen.

Last Thursday during a recess in the freeholder meeting, Trawinski shouted, "I'm not going to stand here and be threatened that I have to watch my ass." While perhaps it could have been a suggestion by Toscano that Trawinski try Jenny Craig, my money is on an unpleasant personal exchange between the two men that had little to do with hip size.

It would be truly funny -- all right it is truly funny -- if it also was not so tragic. Republicans scored a huge victory in 2010 when Donovan unseated Democratic Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney. Donovan was easily the most popular Republican in the county.

The long-serving county clerk could win even when all other Republicans were losing to Democrats. Donovan's adversaries were often not Democrats. The old-boy network of county Republicans has never cottoned to Donovan's moderate brand of Republicanism.

And while she is making tough decisions as county executive, she does not have the in-your-face, take-no-prisoners style of Governor Christie. It's time for that to change. While her core advisers include Alan Marcus, who is anything but shy and retiring, this is a battle for Donovan alone. There is room for only one sheriff in town, and it should be the top elected official of the party.

Yudin may want to be a kingmaker, but it isn't in the cards. …

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