Sea Bright Democrats Expect A Primary Fight Over Council Nominations
Councilman Marc Leckstein: Gopal with overrule local chairman and award him the party line in the primary
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long. photo credit:RedBankGreen.com
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long is poised to lead the tiny coastal borough’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy for another four years.
Long, an Independent, will file her nominating petitions this week, over two months before they are due for Independent candidates. Both the Democratic and Republican municipal chairs have said that they won’t field candidates against Long.
“I am hopeful the voters of Sea Bright will give me the opportunity to see through our rebuilding from Sandy, the recovery of our municipal finances and the economic revitalization of our downtown,” Long said in a prepared statement, “I want to make sure we incorporate lessons learned from Sandy to improve our future resilience, and that we continue to engage and empower Sea Bright residents to be an active part that process.
“Over the last three and half years, we have seen that when we roll up our sleeves and work together, we succeed. If we keep bringing that spirit to the tasks at hand, I know Sea Bright’s potential can finally be realized. I am honored that the Democrat and Republican party organizations are not opposing my re-election bid, and am very very grateful. I look forward to working with them all to keep Sea Bright moving forward.”
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long. photo credit:RedBankGreen.com
When Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal promised retribution and accused Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long of abandoning her principals by endorsing Governor Chris Christie for reelection, Long said, “Whether Vin likes it or not, I’m still a Democrat.”
Now she’s not a Democrat. Long quietly changed her registration to Unaffiliated in February. The Asbury Park Press was the first to report Long’s new status.
“I did this quietly and without fanfare,” Long told MMM, “to talk about why I did it would defeat the purpose.” Prodded, Long said, “its a long story, no pun intended.”
Political insiders in Sea Bright have been aware of Long’s new status for a few weeks. One insider said that something happened in the county Democratic Party that Long considered personally hurtful.
We’re hearing plenty about Bridgegate and Governor Christie’s response to it from cable news pundits and late night comedians. MMM thought it would be interesting to hear what our Monmouth County leaders, from both parties, have to say about the controversy and Christie’s response to it at his press conference last Thursday.
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long, said “No, and I’m angry that some are tossing by name around as if I’m waffling about my endorsement,” when we asked her if she regretted endorsing Christie in light of the Bridgegate scandal. “Bridgegate is terrible, but it does not undue the Sandy recovery. My endorsement was based on the Sandy recovery. Let’s wait and see what happens when all the facts come out. Right now it’s a feeding frenzy.”
Senator Jennifer Becksaid, “The governor has always straight forward me with, and he was forthcoming in his press conference on Thursday. I believe him.”
Monmouth County Republican Chairman John Bennett said, “Governor Christie was open and sincere in his press conference. He said that he will now talk to everyone on his staff himself to get to the bottom of what happened. This issue may have gotten away from him because he departed from his usual practice of doing it all himself.
“Unfettered and overzealous politicos on Christie’s staff went way over the mark. The lane closures were a bad, bad idea that never should have happened.”
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal hasn’t returned our calls since we debunked his malicious and inaccurate attempted character assassination of a Red Bank Republican Council Candidate last October, so we asked his predecessor, Victor Scudiery, and the man who opposed him in the chairman’s race in 2011, Frank LaRocca to comment.
Former Monmouth Democratic Chairman Victor Scudiery said, “I take Chris Christie’s word for it. We’ll have to play it out and see what happens. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, it’s frightening, but we have to wait and see.”
Vin Gopal. When you’re twenty-eight years old and the most popular governor in the nation singles you out as a practitioner of the “politics of yesterday,” twice in four months, you’re having a bad year.
Worse for the Monmouth County Democratic Chairman, he doesn’t have the juice to enforce the retribution he promised to Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long and Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider, two Monmouth County Democrats who endorsed Governor Chris Christie’s reelection.
When, after a devastating county-wide electoral loss, a member of your party leaks your declaration of victory taking credit for wins in races you lost and for a victory in a non-partisan election you weren’t involved in, you’re having a bad year.
But none of those things are what landed Vin Gopal on MMM’s biggest loser list.
Gopal launched his inaccurate attack against Sean DiSomma in a press release late on a Friday afternoon in October. He encouraged reporters to print his allegations on over the weekend and do their fact checking on Monday, after the story had legs. Some did, to their own detriment.
In his desperate zeal to win in a Democratic town where he was losing, Gopal ruined his credibility with members of the media who had come to rely upon him as a reliable source.
The Bayshore Tea Party Group. Once respected as a powerful and principled political force, Barbara Gonzalez , Bob Gordon and their shrunken band of zealots traded their welcome at Republican power tables where they could have made a difference for the road less taken of self-righteous irrelevancy.
When Sandy came ashore last October, Sea Bright’s downtown was severely flooded, with more than a thousand homes and businesses damaged or destroyed and the streets filled with mountains of sand and debris. Ten months later, as the repairs continue…
Spring Lake Mayor Jennifer Naughton and Council members Janice Venables, Bob Dasheff and Priscilla Reilly joined Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long and Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider in throwing their support behind Christie despite Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal’s attempts to enforce party discipline.
Gopal issued statements critical Long’s and Scheider’s endorsements of Christie, prompting the Governor to say that the 27 year old chairman represents the “politics of yesterday.”
Regarding today’s endorsements, Gopal said, “Spring Lake is an overwhelmingly Republican town. When Councilwoman Venables ran council last year, her mail pieces asked people to vote Democratic locally but not the rest of the ticket. The Monmouth County Democrats, as a county party, strongly supports Senator Barbara Buono for Governor. She will fight for working families throughout this county and state.”
Venables was a Monmouth Democratic Freeholder nominee in 2010.
The Borough of Sea Bright is one of twenty towns throughout the United States and Canada named as winners of Benjamin Moore’s Main Street Matters contest.
Sea Bright and 19 other town’s business districts will be revitalized over the next year by the paint manufacturer working with their local retailers and painting contractors. The winners were selected by voters on the company’s website.
Woohoo! We won!! THANK YOU everybody!!! Email received minutes ago:
We’re thrilled to let you know that Sea Bright is a 2013 Benjamin Moore Main Street Matters community. It’s a testament to the passion your community members have shown us over the course of the voting period. All of the 20 towns on the final list got here because of the outpouring of support we heard at a local level, so you should be very proud both of your Main Street area and all of your supporters.
We will be delivering a package to your town later today with more information. But we wanted reach out to congratulate you first thing today.
Long and Schneider are among a long and growing list of Democrats who are supporting Christie over the Democratic nominee, State Senator Barbara Buono. Earlier this week State Senator Brian Stack of Hudson County and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo formally endorsed Christie.
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal issued the following statement about Schneider endorsing Christie:
“Adam Schenider is the Mayor of a nonpartisan town. He has endorsed numerous Republicans and Democrats in the past – as recently as 2011 when he endorsed a Republican Assemblywoman. As the mayor of a town which has nonpartisan form of governing, Mayor Schneider has said numerous times that he is not involved in either of the two major political parties in the county. Congressman Frank Pallone, the Democratic Municipal Chairman in Long Branch and his Democratic municipal committee is aggressively supporting Senator Barbara Buono’s campaign for Governor. Senator Buono opposed the cuts in UEZ funding in Governor Christie’s budget and she will also support an increase in the minimum wage – two issues which are important to Long Branch. I am confident that Long Branch residents will overwhelmingly support Senator Buono in November”
Gopal, Doherty and Nelson make Gannett’s ‘Other” List
Brian Nelson. Asbury Park Press Photo
In addition to the list of twelve ‘rising stars’ that Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande made on Sunday, Gannett published a list of 15 ‘up and comers’ to keep an eye on that includes three Monmouth players.
Democrats Vin Gopal, the 27 year old county chairman and Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, 39 made the list. Noticeably absent among Democrats were Marlboro Mayor Jonathon Hornik and Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long.
Gopal, from West Long Branch, ran for Assembly in the 11th District in 2011 before being elected county chairman in 2012. It remains to be seen if the Monmouth Democratic party will become more competitive under Gopal’s leadership, but there is no question that he is developing a statewide portfolio of influence with his early support of Barbara Buono for the 2013 gubernatorial nomination, his non-stop fundraising schedule for candidates statewide and savvy media presence. Gopal has ties to both Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Congressman Frank Pallone. How he navigates the anticipated 2014 battle between Booker and Pallone for the U.S. Senate nomination will be fascinating to watch. MMM predicts that he will be seen as a supporter of the winner and an ally of the loser.