Not-so-civil war heats up as GOP Chair, Buccos publicly take sides in Freeholder battle

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

In an interview with Save Jersey back around the time that the PAC angle came to light, in this year’s open Morris County Republican primaries, Chairman John Sette told me that he “nearly fell out of [his] chair” upon learning of the deep links between the independent expenditure avalanche and out-of-county Democrat power brokers.

Morris CountyNow he’s taking the unusual step of wading into the open primary and making an endorsement against one of his party’s incumbents, Freeholder John Cesaro, and his “Morris First” running mates Christine Myers and Angelo Tedesco, backing instead the “Morris Conservative Team” comprised of Freeholder Dave Scapicchio, Freeholder John Krickus and Denville Councilwoman Deborah Smith.

The release was jointly-issued along with State Senator Anthony Bucco and his son, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, but their long-standing position in the opposite Morris GOP faction from Cesaro is less surprising than that of the Chairman who, until now, adopted a tact of strict neutrality.

For Sette, the macro-concern of a GOP beset by outside influences transcends the tit-for-tat over localized issues.

“Unfortunately, Democrat special interests are meddling in our Republican Primary, trying to achieve something they can’t do in a general election,” explained Chairman Sette in the release. “When a political group registered with the state of New Jersey as a ‘Democrat’ organization empties its bank account with an $8,400 donation in a Republican Primary, it raises some serious questions about the commitment of the Cesaro team to our Republican principles.

The Bucco men campaigning in 2013 with Chris Christie.
The Bucco men campaigning in 2013 with Chris Christie.

It’s unclear what impact Sette’s 11th hour public pronouncement will have for a divided Morris GOP where Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo and the Bucco’s find themselves with ‘Morris Conservative Team’ on other side of the field from Sheriff Ed Rochford and Senator Joe Pennacchio, the latter of whom is only backing Cesaro on the ‘Morris First’ slate.

Reliable sources on the ground aren’t willing to proffer a firm prediction, either, given the cross-cutting establishment endorsements and unprecedented level of outside cash putting mailers in residents’ mail boxes on an almost daily basis.

It’s wild stuff… for us political nerds, anyway.

Getting caught up?

You can read the extraordinary release here and get a little more background on the huge amount of independent expenditure/Democrat spending in deep-red Morris County this cycle, including in the municipality of Parsippany, over here.

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