OPINION: What’s at Stake in the Somerset County mutiny | Howes

It’s primary season in New Jersey, replete with caucus nomination battles and primary elections pitting Republican against Republican.  And then there’s the challenge to my chairmanship, which involves an election that won’t happen until June 2024. Here’s what’s happening in Somerset County, and what’s at stake in this mutiny.

Initially, the mutineers sought something that they are not going to get – my resignation.  I have the overwhelming support of the leadership and county committee that I need to continue to do my job well.  Thanks to a legal opinion from O’Toole Scrivo, one of the most respected law firms in the state, they now realize that they cannot oust me. 

Yet they persist.

Last week the ring leader emailed me a letter demanding my resignation.  The letter bears the names of 22 “influencers” (my committee has over 400 members). Among the 22 names on the letter were the names of twelve former office holders, at least three people who reside outside of the county, one person who invented a title, and one person who did not authorize the use of their name on the letter.

And today committee members received a hit piece in their mailboxes falsely using the SCRO letterhead, one that the apparent sender disavowed during a phone call she received from one of my many allies.

Here’s what’s at stake:

During the nearly three years of my leadership, the SCRO has put a special emphasis on outreach to affinity groups, grassroots groups and to conservative Republicans.  We have re-invigorated RMCs that had gone quiet in several municipalities.  At the same time, we have empowered the county committee, the local chairs and the elected officials to make decisions, and lead as they see fit, without heavy-handed interference from the denizens of the smoke-filled rooms.

After all, voters elected mayors and council people – not the “influencers” – to make decisions in the best interests of their towns.  The primary voters elected the county committee people – not the “influencers” – to guide the party and to shape its nominating process.

As a result of the change we brought to the organization, we have produced a net gain of fourteen local seats in two years, and have consistently over performed our D+10 deficit.  We are poised to take back county commissioner seats and three seats in LD-16.

Based on how this mutiny has been conducted, and the past history of some of its leaders, we have every reason to believe that the organization would return to a top-down organization in which the local officials and the committee — and therefore the voters – would lose their prerogatives to a small group of the “influencers”. 

That’s no way to rebuild the Republican Party.

Tim Howes
About Tim Howes 6 Articles
TIM HOWES is a New Jersey attorney and chairman of the Somerset County Republican Organization (SCRO).