Citing his personal experience on how difficult the job of Party Chairman is, former Monmouth Republican Chairman Fred Niemann issued an endorsement letter for John Bennett today.
Niemann served one term as Monmouth GOP Chair from 2004 -2006, a tumultuous time in the Party’s history that included the Operation Bid Rig arrests, raucous nominating conventions and the emergence of blogs and other new media.
While praising both Bennett and his opponent for Chairman, Sheriff Shaun Golden, Niemann argued that an elected official can not manage the conflicts or make the tough decisions a Chairman must make.
“You are either an elected official or a party leader,” Niemann said, “You can’t be both. To be both is an inherent conflict of interest. As an elected official , you interact with other elected officials daily, weekly or monthly. You develop close personal relationships. How can you have that ‘heart to heart’ talk about ‘why you can’t run’ or ‘why you are no longer electable.’ How can you serve the greater good of the party over the private interests of your elected co-officials? The answer is you can’t. You cannot be a party leader and an elected official. You are one or the other.”
Niemann had such a “heart to heart” with the much beloved former Freeholder Ted Narozanik in 2006, forcing Ted to retire. Andrew Lucas of Manalapan was then nominated at a contested nominating convention, over former Howell Mayor Joe DiBella. DiBella conceded the nomination to Lucas rather than wage a court battle over alleged voting irregularities at the convention. Niemann then declined to run for a second term as Chairman, citing fund raising difficulties. Lucas, running with Anna Little for Freeholder and Rose Marie Peters for Surrogate, became the first Republican to lose a county-wide race since Niemann lost the Surrogate’s race to Patricia Bennett of Eatontown in 1985.
“Oh Christ! Maybe I should vote for Shaun,” said one of Bennett’s strongest supporters, who had been a Niemann antagonist last decade, when informed of Niemann’s endorsement.
“Who’s next? Anna Little and Barbara Gonzalez? Adam Purharic?” a Golden supporter joked.
“Compounding the relationship issues are ‘public image’ and ‘electability’ issues,” Niemann continued, “Elected officials must often avoid controversial issues and ‘bad press’ in favor of having the Chairman deal with those unpleasant public issue(s) and policies. The Press feeds on rumors, gossip and confidential sources. By being both Chairman and an elected official you are inherently compromised. By being Chairman, you risk alienation and the loss of your elected position in the next general election because of your status as Chairman and an elected official. By losing your elected position, you do a disservice to the party. Thus, being a Chairman and an elected official is an undesirable combination.
Niemann said that Golden “should openly discuss with you why my position is wrong and incomplete.”
“I can handled it,” Golden said openly in response to Niemann’s letter, “I’m not going to let this nonsense distract me from delivering my message of growing, strengthening and diversifying our Party. My forward looking message is being very well received throughout the county, which is very exciting and gratifying.”