Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Candidate in Race for Gop Chief Is Part of a Plot, Rival Says

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Candidate in Race for Gop Chief Is Part of a Plot, Rival Says

Article excerpt

To most Bergen Republican insiders, Cresskill's John McCann is general counsel -- and political watchdog -- for Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino.

But now that McCann has entered the June 14 race for Bergen County Republican Organization chairman, one of his opponents, Anthony Rottino, suspects he is playing a more devious role -- stalking horse for the embattled incumbent, Bob Yudin.

"I firmly believe that [McCann] is not there on his own accord,'' said Rottino, a builder and entrepreneur from Franklin Lakes.

Rottino supporters argue that McCann's candidacy is part of a plot, engineered by Paul DiGaetano, the former Assembly majority leader from Nutley. They believe that DiGaetano, once a close ally of Yudin, recruited McCann to enter the race as a way of possibly forcing a runoff contest, a move that would ultimately benefit Yudin.

Under BCRO bylaws, a runoff occurs if the first-place finisher fails to win 50 percent of the vote, plus one. The runoff, which usually occurs a week later, is held between the first- and second- place finishers. So, Rottino backers suspect, if McCann places third then he is likely to endorse Yudin in a runoff contest against Rottino.

DiGaetano denies recruiting McCann, and while he spoke favorably of McCann's abilities, he has not publicly endorsed his candidacy. And McCann also says he wasn't recruited by anyone to enter the fray.

And he also strongly denies playing any stalking horse role. The theory is "ridiculous," McCann says, because any voters who voted for him would presumably be people disgruntled with Yudin's leadership. It's unlikely that they would then pivot and support Yudin in a runoff, McCann said.

"It's demonstrative of the fact that Anthony is inexperienced,'' McCann said. "I would not be in a position to ask for voters to support someone they already rejected."

McCann, meanwhile, says Rottino allies have already asked him if he would support Rottino in a runoff against Yudin. McCann refused to name who approached him.

"I told them I'm not making any deals," McCann said. "I am in this to win."

Rottino adamantly denied authorizing any emissaries to approach McCann's for possible support during a runoff. …

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