Although still short of the delegates needed to win the Presidential nomination, nationally McCain has opened up a lead over his nearest challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, that some see as nearly insurmountable.
Nationally, McCain is seen as being backed by the moderate or "country club" Republican establishment, while Romney is backed by our party's conservative wing. It's more complicated than that, however, especially here in New Jersey. McCain, while not the most conservative in the Senate, is far from a liberal. And Romney, regarded as a moderate as Massachusetts governor, was criticized early in the campaign for apparent "flip - flops" on social issues. Indeed, here in Jersey, the establishment had been divided between candidates, with State G. O. P. Chairman Tom Wilson and former D. O. T. Commissioner and current lobbyist Hazel Gluck endorsing McCain, and State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R - Monmouth) and Monmouth County G. O. P. Chairman Adam Puharic (A Kyrillos protege) backing McCain. Kyrillos served as New Jersey chairman for the Romney campaign; McCain's campaign was led by State Sen. Bill Baroni (R - Mercer).
Here in Monmouth County, McCain also carried the day. Kyrillos and Puharic just could not deliver the vote for Romney. In addition to McCain having powerful support from State Sen. Sean Kean and Assemblyman Dave Rible, among others, Puharic was criticized for allowing only the Romney campaign access to the County G. O. P. e-mail list. Too, the fact that former rogue blogger Alan Moretti, a/k/a Monmouth Rastaman, also ran a Romney support blog may have hurt the former Massachusetts governor here in Monmouth.
The next few months will reveal who gets our great party's nomination to fill the shoes of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan. Our party must come together behind its nominee, lest those big shoes go unfilled and the "vacancy" sign goes up outside the Lincoln Bedroom and the "do not disturb" sign goes up outside the Oval Office.
The next few months will also reveal whether Puharic is weakened by the Romney loss in Monmouth County.