WESTFIELD, N.J. – It happened smoothly.
On Tuesday, the GOP chairs of Essex, Sussex, Passaic and Morris counties threw their full weight behind the NJ-11 candidacy of Rosemary Becchi; Al Barlas (Essex) and Laura Ali (Morris) were among the small band of leaders who helped engineer Becchi’s exit from the NJ-07 primary, a plan which Republicans hope boosts the party’s chances in both districts.
“I’m honored to have the united support and endorsement of the County Chairs in District 11. I look forward to working with each Chair and Republicans throughout the district to defeat Democrat Mikie Sherill and end Nancy Pelosi’s reign of liberal control over New Jersey’s Congressional representation,” Becchi said after the announcement.
The Kean-Becchi shuffle is potentially good news for the NJGOP in 2020, and it’s also a sign of a possible realignment in state GOP power politics.
“I want everyone to know that this couldn’t have happened without Larry Casha putting the good of the party before his own interests,” said Ali. “He’s a role model Republican and I cant thank him enough for everything he does for our party. His future is bright and so is the future for CD 7 and CD 11 residents as we begin the battle to win back our Congressional Seats.”
The man left out of the original weekend machinations – long-time Christie ally Bill Palatucci – reportedly played a role in convincing the loose end (Morris’s Larry Casha) to leave the NJ-11 primary race to clear the way for Becchi. Casha endorsed Becchi by day’s end (after one high-level Republican source said he was reluctant to leave the race as early as Tuesday morning), and Palatucci issued a statement after Casha’s decision to quit the contest became public.
“Larry’s decision today to exit the congressional race in CD11 is an example of true leadership,” said Palatucci, who serves as NJGOP national committeeman. “He’s put the interest of party unity ahead of his own, personal desire to run for congress which will serve all Republicans well. I’m sure that Republican leaders across the state will join me in thanking Larry for his unselfish act of leadership.