Monday, October 03, 2005

Politics 101: County Chairs

County and municipal chairs wield immense power -- including line assignment and disbursement of funds -- and they remain relatively under the radar.

Every once in awhile party factions get it into their heads to rise up and attempt to replace a county or municipal chairman.

Even seasoned campaigners don't quite "get" how a chair race works. There is usually a universe of about 700+ votes, which are comprised of party committee members. How does someone get to be a party committee member? Well, the county or municipal chair, with their power of line assignment, gets to choose whose name appears on the ballot during the notiously low-turnout primary election.

Trying to "seize" party committee seats is an up-hill battle, even for seasoned campaigners. Grassroots folks have to work long and hard to ensure control of the seats. When it comes to county chair races, Trenton insiders are relatively clueless about the labor-intensive grassroots aspect of it.

Look at the Monmouth County Republican Organization's successful coup of Bill Dowd: it wasn't successful because of the well-paid staffers or Trenton insiders; it was successful because the worker bees in Monmouth County Republican politics had gotten fed up with Dowd and were able to organize against him.

In legislative and gubernatorial elections, money does matter, but in chair races, with a universe of only 750+ votes, the election is deeply personal and loyalties matter.

Essentially, being a Trenton insider yapping about how you're going to get a ton of money from the state and replace the county chair when most municipal chairs don't even know you, let alone like you or have any loyalty to you as they do the county chair, is a fool's errand and only a complete moron would even attempt to replace a chair without knowing the vote count.

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