HACKENSACK, N.J. – Bergen County used to have one of the state’s most open, democratic Republican primary conventions. Not in 2020.
On Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of Bergen County Republican machinations, Save Jersey learned about a Wednesday night decision by Chairman Jack Zisa to award the county’s June primary lines to NJ-05 candidate John McCann and U.S. Senate candidate Rik Mehta.
Other counties adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting successful online votes, specifically Cumberland County and Middlesex County.
Bergen failed to adjust, canceling its usually robust county convention at the Hackensack BCRO headquarters and defaulting to the results of its policy (aka screening) committee’s weeks-old selections.
Today’s news does impact both competitive federal primary contests on Bergen’s 2020 ballot.
NJ-05 candidate Frank Pallotta has the line in Passaic County; he also boasts as the endorsement of the Morris and Sussex county Republican parties (but neither of those counties has a line of their own). With the Bergen line in hand, it now looks like essentially a two-man contest between Pallotta and McCann, the latter having won the 2018 party nomination before losing to incumbent Democrat Josh Gottheimer by a double-digit margin.
Mehta, for his part, has one every county line, slogan, and/or endorsement awarded to date with the notable exceptions of Ocean, Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic counties.