Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Gop Leaders Have Ties to the Past

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Gop Leaders Have Ties to the Past

Article excerpt

Scott Rumana fulfilled his promise of stepping down as Passaic County's GOP chairman this week, but his parting shot in backing a surprise successor has left the party still divided, according to Republican officials.

Rather than unify, some party members say Rumana's exit did more to distract, largely because of his endorsement of John Traier, a longtime GOP player who ran against and beat the presumed replacement, Scott Heck, at Tuesday's Republican convention. Party observers say the upheaval may delay crucial fundraising and support leading up to November's general election.

Traier, an accountant, also is a part-time legislative aide to Rumana, a state assemblyman. The party's new vice chairwoman, Barbara Roca, is Rumana's chief of staff. The close ties to Rumana have some Republicans worried that what they hoped would be a fresh start will be more of the same, with Rumana still exerting some control of party leadership.

"He [Traier] made it clear last night he's a man with his own ideas, and I hope that's the case," said Michael Ramaglia, a Rumana critic and the new vice party chairman in West Milford. "The ball's in his court at this point."

Traier, 55, the first openly gay county GOP chairman, won the committee election by a 210-163 vote, showing that he has allies in the party. Yet, the concern over continuing division in the party ranks remains at the forefront of the minds of Ramaglia and others.

Rumana had agreed to a deal to mend fences with the opposition group, GOP Strong, led by his longtime rival, former chairman Peter Murphy. The deal was for unanimous support of Heck in exchange for a unified party with no primary challenges.

Rumana said he decided to back Traier to challenge Heck after 135 candidates filed to run against establishment Republicans on the county committee in five towns.

"There was great dissatisfaction with the original deal," Rumana said, describing the mood among committee members during two "heated" meetings in April and May. …

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