Monmouth County Democrats have shrouded the selection of an Assembly candidate to replace Marilyn Schlossbach in the 11th legislative district in more secrecy than a Koch Brothers convention.
They won’t even say where and when the convention to vote on a candidate will be. Campaign Manager Vlad Gutman said the convention will be “on Wednesday, somewhere in the district.”
MMM has learned that the convention will be Wednesday, 6:30PM at the Asbury Park VFW.
Democratic County Committee members from the district are being called and urged to attend the convention which requires, under Title 19, a quorum of 50% plus 1 of the committee members in order to select a candidate. While they are scrambling to get a quorum, the Democrats are also scrambling to find a candidate. No mention of potential candidates is being made on the calls to the committee members and no one will say who is under consideration or who has thrown their hat into the ring.
Schlossbach’s withdrawal was a big blow to the Democrats’ slim hopes of picking up Assembly seats in Monmouth County. An internal Democratic poll indicated that Schlossbach had the highest name recognition of all Assembly candidates, including incumbents Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande. While Schlossbach’s name recognition was superior, the poll indicated that the Republican team of Senator Jennifer Beck, Angelini and Casagrande are heavy favorites to win in November. Beck’s name recognition and favorables in the district are huge.
Despite a voter registration advantage in the district, the Democrats have a very thin bench. Elected officials like Red Bank Councilman Michael Dupont, Long Branch Councilman John Pallone (brother of the congressman), Neptune Township Deputy Mayor Randy Bishop and Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo all declined to run for the legislature back in April when the slate of Ray Santiago for Senate, Schlossbach and Vin Gopal for Assembly, all seeking their first elected office, was chosen by the party. Now that the summer fund raising season has past and polling has been done, the district looks less winnable for Democrats than it did it April, making it less likely that an experienced politico with a base will step up to replace Schlossbach.
Also complicating the Democrats task of finding an Assembly candidate, Santiago and Gopal have made support of gay marriage a central theme of their campaign. If marriage equality is a litmus test, finding a new candidate will be even more difficult.
Fund raising will be difficult whoever the Democrats nominate, with the possible exception of John Pallone who could tab his brother’s special interest supporters. Beck is dominating the fund raising race in the district by both raising money for her team and discouraging donors from contributing to her opponents. Beck called Cory Booker this week to express her displeasure over the fact that the Newark Mayor is headlining a fundraiser for Gopal later this month in Colts Neck.
The Democrats will probably come up with a nominee, if they get a quorum at the convention. Whoever it is will be taking one for the team and will probably get a new job or appointment some time in the next year.