When I first weighed in on former SNL Comedian Joe Piscopo‘s seriousness as a 2017 Republican candidate for governor, Save Jerseyans, I also served up the somewhat obvious point that we’ll need to see whether the state’s powerful county party chairman laugh with him or at him.
Their lack of support isn’t necessarily fatal to an outsider candidacy but it sure doesn’t help, particularly since Piscopo isn’t Phil Murphy or Jon Corzine wealthy.
Well, we now have confirmation that one of the state’s most powerful and respected Republicans is apparently taking Piscopo seriously.
More than one well-connected Republican Save Jersey source has confirmed that Burlington County GOP Chairman Bill Layton arranged a meet-and-greet opportunity of sorts for Piscopo in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Two chairmen — Layton and Camden County’s Tom Booth — ultimately sat down with the comedian. The precise topic matter of the discussion wasn’t disclosed.
Layton’s influence is statewide politics is considerable given the talented chairman’s strong grip on Burlington County (including complete control of all county office) notwithstanding a county-wide Democrat voter registration advantage.
Burlington and Camden, combined, account for approximately 10% of the statewide GOP primary electorate based on the 2009 contest between Chris Christie and Steve Lonegan. Since other major candidates like Kim Guadagno (Monmouth) and Jack Ciattarelli (Somerset) aren’t of South Jersey, the region could prove a critical battleground in a hotly contested spring 2017 primary.
We might just get one, too.
My sources further confirmed that Chairman Layton isn’t committing to Piscopo anytime soon, but the veteran politico and Trenton operator also isn’t sold on any of the other prospective candidates at this early juncture. They say he’s firmly undecided for the time begin. Another angle: Layton is wise enough to appreciate the benefits of a robust primary for county parties who rely on energy (and the money energetic primaries generate) to operate. Stay tuned….