TRENTON, N.J. – Bullying? Or just normal political hardball?
The national grassroots organization ‘Republican Women for Progress‘ – a super pac raising money to assist female GOP candidates – insists an email authored by N.J. GOP National Committeeman Bill Palatucci urging donors to withhold donations from NJ-07 primary candidate Rosemary Becchi is tantamount to bullying, and they want it to stop.
“It was only six years ago that the GOP released its infamous autopsy report after the disastrous 2012 election. Front and center in the report’s recommendations was to prioritize women, to listen to them, to elect them, and to get them involved in party leadership. Just a few short months ago, leadership again swore the party was committed to running and supporting more women. Oh how quickly we forget,” the organization’s leadership explained in a statement. “Right now there are 21 members of Congress named John, but only 21 TOTAL Republican women serving in the House and Senate. That is not ok. What’s even worse, is that men in Republican leadership are now actively bullying the women who are stepping up to run for office. A prime example is the article that ran in Insider NJ yesterday revealing that Bill Palatucci, a RNC committee member and Tom Kean operative, is emailing his Republican friends in Washington pressuring them to not donate or raise any money for Rosemary Becchi, who’s running in the NJ-7 primary against a white, male career politician.”
In the e-mail first reported by InsiderNJ, Palatucci advises recipients that if they wanted “to help the state party or Leader (Jon) Bramnick, (they) wouldn’t be wasting … money contributing to Rosemary’s doomed 2020 campaign. A Washington D.C. lawyer/lobbyist is a terrible message for us in CD-7 next year.”
RWP says it’s a sign of a deeper problem.
“Frankly it speaks to Rosemary’s strength as a candidate that she’s scaring the establishment like she is. But it’s embarrassing for Palatucci and the rest of the party leadership that we can’t even listen to our own advice on outreach to women,” the group added. “Changing demographics in the country and the GOP’s continued active dismissal of women and minorities are incompatible with future success. If the party is going to compete in the future, we need more women like Rosemary in the halls of Congress – women with real world experience that actually want to work for the betterment of their constituents. If we want to see the GOP crash and burn, then by all means, continue relying on cronyism and the old boys club rather than supporting strong women. These attempts to bully qualified female candidates out of the field must end.”
Kean is the GOP primary race’s clear frontrunner with his name recognition and nearly $1 million raised. Still, Becchi – a tax lawyer and reform advocate with Capitol Hill experience – posted almost $400,000 last quarter and is considered competitive heading into next June. Establishment Republicans privately worry that Becchi’s aggressive campaign will hamper Kean’s chances in the general, a concern which appears present to a degree in Palatucci’s email urging donors to freeze her out.
Whether the National Committeeman’s vocal opposition to Becchi genuinely constitutes “bullying,” however, is likely to be a far more controversial question.
When reached for comment by Save Jersey, Palatucci refused to apologize for what he considered fair criticism of Becchi and her campaign. In fact, he says it’s part of his job.
“Calling out a ill- conceived campaign by a Republican male or female candidate is the job of every Republican leader. These “Washington Wonders” don’t know New Jersey or CD7 where I live and they don’t know Tom Kean,” said Palatucci. “Why is Rosemary Becchi wasting $300,000 or more running again Tom Kean when we could spending those funds to elect Katie Gibbs in CD3? Why aren’t wasting money on this primary instead of funding a good candidate in CD11? Again, DC lawyer/lobbyist as our candidate? No on my watch.”
Boasting a long history in the NJGOP power politics, Palatucci is currently an attorney with Gibbons P.C. who is best known as former Governor Chris Christie’s right hand man, closest Republican confident and sometimes political enforcer. He is also a successful Republican fundraiser with extensive national connections through his national committee work and, most famously, his time and effort assisting Chris Christie with the Trump transition.
The ultimate victor in the increasingly contentious NJ-07 primary will face freshman Democrat Tom Malinowski in a battle to retake the North-Central Jersey seat formally held by Leonard Lance.