HAMILTON TWP, N.J. – As entertaining as intense state-wide Democrat infighting might be at the moment, Murphy vs. Norcross has nothing on the Mercer GOP vs. Kelly Yaede war in terms of hot rhetoric and extremely personal attacks.
It’s gotten to the point where the county Republican organization isn’t giving its line to the Republican mayor of its largest town, a decision which broke earlier this spring.
On Wednesday, the county chairwoman endeavored to articulate why, in her opinion, things are where they are with mere days to go before primary day.
“The reason why I did not give Mayor Yaede and her slate the line was to protect the integrity of the Republican Line on the Ballot,” Mercer GOP Chairwoman Lisa Richford explained in a Wednesday press release. “I had no alternative, but to do so. I followed the law and did what was in the best interest of the Republican Party.”
Richford cited “Yaede and her circle’s continued long history of bad behavior” including allegedly running her town and local party with a “shut up and submit attitude.”
“Yaede and her circle do not want unification. Unification to them is equivalent to shut up and submit. Yaede has alienated Republicans not just locally, but across the State,” added Richford, an attorney.
The “line” is influential in New Jersey politics; receiving the right to run in the official party column on primary day affords candidates a visibility and, in some instances, a credibility advantage with many primary voters. Candidates without the line may be stuck far out on the right side of the column where casual voters are likely to ignore them.
In explaining her decision, Richford also zero-ed in on the percolating controversy surrounding Hamilton’s embattled animal shelter, one which has elicited a storm of finger-pointing and drew a strong condemnation of the GOP mayor from Republicans including outgoing GOP Councilwoman Ileana Schirmer, a long-time Yaede critic. Hundreds of cats and dogs were allegedly illegally euthanized.
“Yaede claims that the animal shelter arrests are political. They are the furthest thing from political,” said Richford. “Once again, she never ever takes personal responsibility for anything, it is always someone else’s fault. She continues to alienate and blame everyone else including neighboring Mayors Fried and Gusciora, Council members, even Prosecutor Onofri and Governor Murphy and beyond.”
“I was forced to get involved, there was absolutely no personal vendetta as falsely claimed by Yaede and her circle behind about what I did. I followed the law and rules and in the best interest of the Republican Party, did the only thing that had to be done and that was to protect the integrity of the Republican Line and the democratic process,” Richford concluded. “When the Yaede Circle including those grasping to their political relevancy tell you that I did not follow protocol, I will tell you that the law is the protocol and that no one is above the law.”
Meanwhile, Yaede has trained her fire on a push for local tax cuts.
“We have proposed a tax cut that State officials have confirmed their approval of, so now there are no excuses for further inaction by the Township Council. It’s time for Council President Martin and his colleagues to stop auditioning for who will be Robbinsville’s ‘6th Council Member’ and put Hamilton taxpayers first. Approve our budget that will reduce municipal taxes and keep sewer rates flat,” said Mayor Yaede in a press release which she shared on Save Jersey‘s Facebook group.