Tuesday, July 31, 2007


On Sunday Art Gallagher at More Monmouth Musings linked to a post on corruption by Red Jersey's Eric Sedler. It's an interesting post, but we found an interesting sub topic that is very relevant here in Monmouth County, and that is the subject of Republicans becoming Democrats. He mentions a longtime Burlington County legislator, Assemblyman Francis Bodine, who has switched from Republican to Democrat, as well as some local leaders in Gloucester County. I wonder if George Norcross was involved in any of that.
While we haven't had any legislators switch here in Monmouth County (Ocean County did, some years ago when Assemblyman Jorge Rod crossed over to the Dem side.), we have seen it happen locally, enough that it may be a concern.
Different people have different reasons for changing parties. Some may do so because of a local party split, some may find that their philosophy no longer matches their party, yet others switch for purely opportunistic reasons.
Back in the 80's, then-Marlboro Mayor Saul Hornik became a Democrat in his first term. Rep. Frank Pallone is a former Republican; he never held office as a Republican, but he had a conservative reputation in the State Senate, only becoming the ultra-lib we know today after his election to the U. S. House. Another one to turn during the 80's was former Ocean Township Mayor Richard English. Son of Republican Councilman Ed English of Asbury Park, Richard English was an ally locally of (now) Sen. Joe Palaia. Richard English became a Democrat to run for freeholder; he lost.
Others who have switched include Beverly Bova-Scarano of Middletown, Marc LeVine of Freehold Borough, Michael Cannon of Matawan, Courier publisher Jim Purcell, former Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna and others.
This spring, there was anticipation that Freeholder Anna Little would become a Democrat and run on their line; this proved to be as much wishful thinking on the Democrats' part as it was rumor mongering among some Republicans. She remains a Republican.
The Democrats, too, have had some of their own become Republicans, and we don't hold it against them. The late Joe Pepe served as Democratic mayor of Neptune Township before becoming a Republican, and Wall G. O. P. Chairman Bob McKenna was originally elected to the Township Committee back in the 80's as a Democrat.
As to the Republicans who become Democrats, is this a problem? Why is this taking place, is there a pattern? Are we hemorrhaging party members to the Democrats, or is this just a normal crossing over that takes place at times? Should we be trying to keep these people on the ranch, or say good riddance and don't let the screen door hit them on the way out? Probably both, as each case is different.


Art Gallagher said...

Democratic Assembly candidate Pat Walsh and Middletown Committee member Pat Short are also former Republicans.

The real question is, does it make a difference? Does either party have the best interests of the community at heart, or are they dominated by those who are interested in their own money and power first and foremost.

As someone who's paying the bills rather than reaping the spoils, its hard to be passionate about either party. More and more in the blogosphere and media the distinctions "conservative", "liberal", "moderate" and others are becoming more important than Democrat or Republican. Rightfully so in my opinion.

matawan advocate said...

I'm always a little suspicious of someone who changes horses mid-stream.

Barry Goldwater said...

Some change parties just to get a shot at office. Rumor is that Panter would have run as a Republican if he had known that the Bennett, et al. ticket would self-destruct.

The McKenna rumor is that Arnone told him he would never be anything in Red Bank, and McKenna switched parties just to spite him.

Face it, on a local level, it probably doesn't mean much.