Republican committee members gathered in Mercer County last night to unanimously endorse Councilman Rich Levesque (R-Robbinsville) as their new chairman. Initial reports suggested it was an uneventful gathering.
Perhaps not for everyone?
GOP Freeholder Nominee Jim Castelize announced his decision to withdraw from contention this year, specifically citing last nights results, in a press release posted on his campaign website this afternoon:
My decision to seek the office was an extension of a commitment I made in the year 2010 to advocate for the Residents of Mercer County and the open and accessibility of the county government here in Mercer. For the last 3 years I have been crafting a plan to do this. Unfortunately, the change of leadership in the Mercer County Republican Party is standing in the way of me doing this.”
We’ll keep you posted if more details emerge regarding the dissenter(s) and their grievances.
By way of background, Mercer County Republican politics is notoriously acrimonious. They’ve had multiple chairmen in the past several years and not much legislative or countywide electoral success to show for it. To his credit, Jim was GOP high-vote getter and broke the 40%+ mark the last time he ran; keep in mind, this is a state worker-dominated county where Barack Obama won in ’08 by nearly 14.5-points.
Chairman Levesque is in the fortuitous position of having nowhere to go but up! His first task, however, appears to be the hard work of trying to unify a county party that is historically a fractured one.
Jim’s full press release is posted below the fold…
June 13, 2012
Dear Residents of Mercer County:
I am writing to let you know that effective today I have withdrawn my name from the race Mercer County Freeholder. My decision to seek the office was an extension of a commitment I made in the year 2010 to advocate for the Residents of Mercer County and the open and accessibility of the county government here in Mercer. For the last 3 years I have been crafting a plan to do this. Unfortunately, the change of leadership in the Mercer County Republican Party is standing in the way of me doing this. At this time I am exploring my options as to how to proceed from this point forward.
I am not stepping away from my pledge to be a watchdog of the county government and to that I will be keeping my website – castelizeformercer.com up and running, and via my blog on this site I will be calling out the current administration on their inefficiencies and problems. My first act on this site is that I am placing up a ticker, starting with today; counting down the days till the county government allows access to their meeting minutes via an online platform since my call to them via my press release on April 16, 2012. I have made this call many times in the past 3 years, and I think it is high time that they act upon it.
I look forward to serving you in some capacity in the future and thank you for the conversations and openness that you have extended me in the past.