By Matthew Gilson | The Save Jersey Blog
I am not one who panics easily but it is definitely time to panic, Save Jerseyans.
When I first heard serious people discussing Mike Saudino joining the dark side last night, I refused to post the story part because I would not run something so monumental within hearing it from him directly, and partly because of just the complete and utter shockwave it sends. The last election for the Bergen Republicans was Defcon 1, this is the Russians actually launching a nuclear missle.
Think about this: Republicans have never, that is not once ever, been completely shut out of government in Bergen County. Even during the leanest year, the years when Ferriero was racking up future prison sentences, the party still managed to hold on the County Clerk seat even in the 2008 Obama year.
If Freeholder Maura DeNicola does not run for re-election like John Felice, and we do not beat a Democratic incumbent with the full force of a presidential year and a broken down BCRO behind them, Republicans will be completely shut out of government. In the largest county in the state, a state that voted over 60%+ for Chris Christie, a county crucial to statewide success, we will hold as Republicans exactly zero seats.
In all honesty, I have not heard what Chairman Bob Yudin has to say about this. Frankly, I would expect nothing less than for him to portray Saudino as some kind of monster and say that his chairmanship is a resounding success. He will break out the stump speech about local races, as if being shut out of county government is fine as long as we win the Norwood 3rd Ward School Board Presidency. The fact is BCRO was broken after the 2014 election; it was on fire after the 2015 election, and it has now reached nuclear meltdown as of today.
The Saudino decision is surprising but shocking may not be the right word. I had been working on an article with predictions for 2016 where I said that “despite intense pressure” Saudino would stay a Republican; guess I was wrong the optimist in me! It is not hard to see the appeal for Saudino. He likes being sheriff and switching to the winning team makes that task even easier. Saudino does not stop being a good sheriff overnight… he only stops being so if bows down to the whims of Lou Stellato.
The county building is beginning to have that Ferriero buzz where it is the chairman and not the elected officials who are calling the show. I can only hope that Sheriff Saudino can rise above and continue to provide the excellent service he has. The real question: how far WILL the sheriff go in selling out to the other side? Will his style of governance change? Working against him will not be fun. I have grown to really like Mike and he has been a supporter of myself and the YRs for years.
Going forward, let’s be very clear about something: no more sugar coating.
The Saudino decision has absolutely unequivocally everything to do with the failed leadership of Bob Yudin and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. Do you think Saudino would have jumped ship after winning twice as a Republican if he thought he would win a third-term as a Republican? Think logically that makes no sense.
Mike Saudino did not suddenly become enamored with the party who despises law enforcement after years of conservative principles. He knew that, with Bob Yudin at the helm of BCRO and all of the infighting and dysfunction that’s characterized the last few cycles persisting, his chances of winning were not good. He went to greener pastures. I’m not defending the decision… just telling you what time of day it is…
The refrain among many in the party is “wait until June; Bob will be gone.” Sadly, we are seeing that is not good enough. Bob Yudin needs to go now. I have nothing personally against the chairman and he has been at least tolerant toward young people in the party, but it has become clear that is no longer the right man to lead the party. We need to start now prepping to salvage what we can for 2016 and moving forward toward a stronger 2017. I thank the chairman for the victories the party has had, but this latest news means that he needs to resign, not later, but now.