Literally. Former Monmouth County Sheriff Joe Oxley was recently elected as the new Monmouth County GOP Chairman. Having had only one experience with the previous chairman, Mr. Adam Puharic, I figured it would be an immediate and telling experience if I had just one experience with the new chairman, if not just to see if things have changed, so I attended the Monmouth County Affiliated Republican Dinner Friday night in Spring Lake ($35/person, a price I can afford!) to see if the new party was any better than the old party.
Indeed, things have changed and are going to be looking up for the GOP in Monmouth County. If you've read about my experience at the convention while trying to run for office, I didn't have a very nice opinion of the chairman or the party. I attended this dinner with the expectation that I'd be sitting at a table alone, shunned by all in attendance. Instead, I was welcomed in to the event, a few people noticed me in attendance and came to greet me and congratulate me on a hard fought (losing) campaign and oddly enough, I had three people whisper "don't tell anyone, but I voted for you". Well, your secret is safe, I won't rat out those three people, but thanks.
I ended up sitting with Art Gallagher, Anna Little, future dog catcher Wayne Pominowski and maybe most notably, future Congressman for NJ-D6 and my former primary competitor, (traffic court) Judge Robert McLeod. I had a very pleasant conversation with Mr. McLeod and as I've always insisted, Bob seems to understand the issues and he seems to represent the average resident of New Jersey well. After speaking with him at length, I believe that Mr. McLeod would make a good representative, however, I'm still not certain that Bob has the motivation and drive to reach the tens of thousands of voters he needs to reach in order to defeat Pallone. I volunteered my time and energy to help Bob win the general election, but taking on Pallone is no easy task and getting the press coverage needed to reach the voters will be a challenge.
It was also very considerate (although a little awkward) of Tom Apostle who was doing most of the speaking, to announce that I was in attendance (as if I'm someone) after he announced all of the people who are legitimate, elected someones. Tom also then asked me to come to the front of the room when he asked Bob McLeod to come speak. I wasn't sure if should have grabbed the mic and said a few words or stand next to Bob and look silly.... I chose the later and Bob delivered an interesting speech.
It sounds as if Mr. Oxley has already made some significant changes to how the party handles itself and how the party handles new comers. Mr. Oxley says the locks and buzzer at headquarters in Freehold have been removed, but more important is that Friday's event was welcoming to new comers. It'll be interesting to see how the party does in November, and how Mr. Oxley cleans up the mess that was left for him. Good luck Joe.
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