By Art Gallagher
Who is this woman who, only six years ago was not involved in politics and now has State Legislators and county elected officials feverishly working the phones to make sure she is elected Monmouth County GOP Chair on Tuesday evening at Colts Neck High School?
Late last week as I was finishing up my preparation for this series, I called two of the elected officials who had endorsed John Bennett for Chair. I trust these people’s judgment and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something.
“Tell me why John Bennett will be a better Chair than Christine Hanlon,” I asked both Republicans. Neither had an answer. Both said they liked Christine and that she would be a good Chairwoman. They both spoke of their friendship with Bennett and the support he gave them early in their careers as the reason for endorsements. Neither disagreed with my concerns about Bennett’s baggage.
One of them called me back over the weekend and asked, “Why do you think Christine will be a better Chair than John?” “Bennett is too much of a risk. Fair or not, he will become a campaign issue and a distraction. No one works harder than Christine and she’s motivated by something other than personal gain,” was my reply. “How can you say that about someone who has only been involved for a few years?” the person quickly asked. “Because I’ve taken the time to get to know her, just like I took the time to get to know you when you were running.” “Oh, I was just asking.” “That’s OK, I was just answering.”
While Christine first got involved in Monmouth County Republican politics as a volunteer for then Senator Sean Kean and Assembly candidates Dave Rible and Mary Pat Angelini, the former 11th District Shore Team, in their 2007 campaign, I never had a more than a “Hi, nice to see you” conversation with her until Sheriff Kim Guadagno’s 2009 Super Bowl Brunch. The buzz around that event was that all of the gubernatorial contenders, Chris Christie, Steve Lonegan and Rick Merkt were speaking. But the strong undercurrent was who would be running against Democratic Freeholder Director Baraba McMarrow in November to win back control of the Freeholder Board. McMarrow was considered very difficult to beat and many Republicans thought we needed a woman to challenge her. Christine’s name had been floated. I asked Christine if she was interested. She said she was loyal to another candiate who’s name was also floating. Eventually McMarrow decided not to run, John Curley was nominated and elected and later McMarrow became a Republican member of the Freehold Township Committee.
During the summer of 2009, Hanlon was a relentless pain in the ass. She was the Monmouth County Coordinator for the Christie for Governor campaign. Daily emails looking for volunteers for phone banks. Phone calls looking for a Highlands Coordinator. “I’ll deliver Highlands, leave me alone,” I was tempted to say many times. That would have been an empty promise to take credit for. Highlands’s Democrats had no passion for Corzine. I was more concerned about getting two council candidates elected in a town where voters cross ballot lines regularly. Besides, didn’t Christine know I was getting multiple emails a day directly from the Christie campaign looking for coverage here? She didn’t care. No excuses, just results, was what she demanded, nicely. We all know how that tuned out as Christie won Monmouth County with over 60% of the vote. It was a good thing Hanlon was not a Freeholder candidate that year.
In 2010 Hanlon and I were on opposite sides of the Little/Gooch primary in CD-6. Early on in that race, Hanlon saw me talking to Diane Gooch at an event. She quickly interjected herself into the conversation to protect her candidate from an unfriendly blogger. There were no grudges after that race. Quite the contrary. She sought me out at an event to give me a tip about an action Highlands muncipal government could take to save significant amounts in one of our contracts. I passed in on to the elected officials who implemented it. That interaction was one of the most useful in my tenure as Highlands municipal chair.
Beneath her pleasant and humble demeanor is a tough former Bronx prosecutor. She’s an incredibly disciplined Strong Man competitor and martial artist. Those sexists who say Christine will be Brian Nelson’s “puppet” don’t know either Christine or Brian nor realize that Hanlon could kick Nelson’s ass.
Those who underestimate Hanlon or don’t understand how she can fulfill all of her responsibilities and take on more, reveal more of their own inadequacies than they shed light on who she is.
I’ve never heard Christine ask for anything for herself. I’ve heard her ask for time, effort and money for others and for our Republican cause. I’ve never heard her boast of her accomplishments or talent. I’ve heard her boost the accomplishment and talent of others, in an effort to forward Republican principles and candidates.
Christine Hanlon is the right choice for Monmouth GOP Chairwoman because no one works harder than she does. Few are smarter than she is. Few live by the One Team One Goal No Excuses Just Results credo she lives by. She’s in this first and foremost to make a difference.