Bergen GOP Freeholder Hopefuls File

Deadline Approaches for Bergen Freeholder; Fitzhenry and Walsh Emerge as the Favorites

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

bergen county mapAs the deadline approaches for BCRO convention participation tomorrow, Save Jerseyans, no less than four candidates have filed a letter of intent to run for Bergen County freeholder.

The current list includes former District 36 senate candidate Brian Fitzhenry, Ridgewood Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh, Ridgefield Municipal Chair Bob Avery, and former District 37 assembly candidate, Deidre Paul.  It is also possible, report Save Jersey sources, for an as-of-yet unconfirmed individual out of Old Tappan to file.

Here’s what we’re hearing so far in the early going…

While lacking the elected official gravitas that has accompanied contest conventions in the past, our sources tell Save Jersey that the early favorites at the onset appear to be Brian Fitzhenry and Bernadette Walsh.

Fitzhenry amassed nearly 300 followers on his Facebook page since launching earlier this week including many elected officials and county power players who have been showing their initial support via social media.  Party officials applauded his strong effort in an almost unwinnable battle against Paul Sarlo.  We’re told more Fitzhenry endorsements will surface in the coming days.

Assuming the early momentum holds (and nothing is for certain in politics, let alone Bergen politics), we can speculate that could leave three (possibly four) other people battling for one spot.

Brian Fitzhenry with Gov. Chris Christie (2013)
Brian Fitzhenry with Gov. Chris Christie (2013)

Walsh, the lone elected official of the bunch, also appears to have an inside track, but many question her decision to announce so early in the game. Behind Fitzhenry, she appears to have, however, amassed the most support so far.

Avery could struggle to find support from his home base as nearly all other District 36 chairs have already coalesced behind Fitzhenry.  It remains to be seen whether the ticket could support two candidates from the southern, much less Republican portion of the county. Dr. Paul, a college professor, will likely develop some traction among female members of the committee, but it remains to be seen whether she can garner the support needed to topple either Fitzhenry or Walsh.

Another wild card: it’s still unclear whether County Executive Kathe Donovan or Chairman Bob Yudin will issue endorsements, and if they do, which candidates they favor.  It does not appear as if there is any clear agenda from either side at this time. That could change as these old antagonists hear from hopefuls and perform their calculations in the coming weeks.  Candidates may drop out and endorse others which, of course, will have the potential to change the race.

What we’re confident concluding? (1) the convention is set for March and (2) it holds the potential to be another Hackensack classic.

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