Friday, December 3, 2010

The Monmouth County GOP has changed, and it's so much better

For my long time readers (and there is one in particular who I recently learned is a reader and I am honored and delighted to you have as a reader and I'm now a bit embarrassed about the quality of my writing and editing skills knowing that you're a reader) who might remember when the Monmouth County GOP wouldn't even allow me to come inside of the nominating convention in 2008, just two short years ago, or for the political newcomers who read my blog and who fear "The Establishment", I have great news as an update for you: The Monmouth County GOP has changed and is better than you could imagine. I certainly recommend that rather than staying home and complaining about "The Establishment", you come out and get to know the new, and improved, Monmouth County Republican Party and I believe we'll continue to see great candidates coming from the improved organization.

How did I come to this conclusion? This past Thursday night I attended the Monmouth County Affiliated Republican Club's Holiday Party at the Lakeside Manor in Hazlet NJ. I shouldn't have to tell you this, but don't believe the snooze, ever; "The GOP Establishment" (in Monmouth County) is not, or rather is no longer, some shady old guys in dark suits who won't give a newcomer like me a minute of their time or the time of the day and want to sit around patting each other on the back ignoring the AverageNoOnes like me and trying to raise your taxes, take your guns and steal your property. The new Republican Party headed by County Committee Chairman, former Middletown Mayor and former County Sheriff, Joe Oxley along with the Affiliated Republican Club, of which Wayne Pomanowski among others, seems to be working hard to welcome new names and faces, reach out to voters and getting average, ordinary folks to work together to do extra-ordinary things.

But back to the Holiday Party. My girlfriend and I walked in and debated a coat check or not. We opted to hang on to our coats because I had that left over fear from 2008 that I'd quickly be shown the door, no one would want to talk to me, again, and we'd be on our way back home shortly. So we approached the welcome table and just as I was about to open my stupid mouth and give the "Hi, James Hogan from Long Branch. I paid my $20/each by check #XXX", the man at the table, who I believe was John Lane(from Belmar? my apologies if I have this wrong, I should know obviously, but my name to face skills may be lacking at this point) looked up at me with a big smile on his face and said, and I do quote because I asked my girlfriend several times if I heard it correctly, "Mr. Hogan. Good to see you. You're all set." and we walked on in. Needless to say, as honored as I was to be recognized by anyone, I was still a bit skeptical.

Not three feet into the room, Marianne McKenzie, the Sea Bright Republican Chair came to greet me. Marianne has been a huge asset as we try to re-organize in Long Branch (which is a whole different story for another day, probably next Friday) and Marianne spent the night going out of her way to introduce me to the people in the party that she knew, which is greatly appreciated. Again, the more interesting and welcoming part, a handful (and I do mean a handful, but to keep things honest, not two handfuls) of the people Marianne introduced me to actually knew who I was already, it's a great feeling to see that hard work pays off. Someone (and I'll get back to this next week) may accuse me of "gladhanding" or try to use my committee position as a stepping stone, but all that I have done is worked hard to support great candidates like Anna Little and Warren Lapp, which is what a committeeman is supposed to be doing, and that people recognize a hard worker and are motivated by my efforts is part of my own motivation to keep going. Regardless of being accused of "gladhanding" or anything else, I'll continue to help seek and help support great candidates and help local voters communicate their opinions with the candidates and representatives. But I'm straying from my main point again, the new people leading the Republican Party really are great people, rather than sitting home and complaining about "The Establishment", I really do suggest YOU getting involved, I think you'll be delighted with the direction that the party has taken, and the people who are actively participating in the party.

So also that night, I ran into my long time buddy Hank Butehorn from Middletown, who is another former Long Brancher and great conservative himself and we chatted for a bit. Hank also works hard for the Republican party and has played an important role in helping to redefine and reshape the party. Again, for anyone concerned about an "Establishment" in Middletown -- reach out to Hank, I know he'll be more than willing to talk and offer input if you're reasonable and willing to do more than yell and complain and Hank and the other people I've met from Middletown are again not "The Establishment" that the snooze has told you to hate, and fear.

Also in attendance was Jim Granelli from Neptune who was Warren Lapp's campaign manager. For anyone who doesn't believe that Neptune Township Republicans are alive and well and trying to work hard for you, I suggest you contact Jim. He welcomed me to the Republican Party and I'm confident that he'll welcome anyone who wants to do more than sit around the table at Tony's Pizzeria and complain (and I'll explain this next week too). If I've been called a hard worker for this party and its candidates, then the people who have called me such haven't or aren't comparing me to Jim Granelli. Jim may not be the current chairman in Neptune, I don't even know if he's on the committee, but I can assure you, Jim is an Establishment of his own, and if you want to be involved and make a difference in Neptune, reaching out to him will be another experience to convince you that the snooze has it all wrong.

And so my night had gone that well. I'd met most everyone including Jim Giannell from Red Bank and Gerri Popkin -- both of whom I've seen around at numerous events but was always a bit intimidated by, were THEY that awful "Establishment" I was supposed to fear?? If so, there is nothing to fear, they too are not the evil and feared "Establishment". In fact, I was a bit shocked that they seemed to recognize me to some extend from just being around. Again, if you get involved with the new Republican party, I think you'll learn that this "Establishment" isn't hundreds or thousands of creeps meeting secretly to destroy your life, but is just a few dedicated, hardworking people who openly support the party and its candidates.

Just as I was about to leave, I stopped to thank Wayne P for all that he has done and is doing for the party when Steve Grossman spotted me and said hello. I first met Steve outside of the convention in 2008 and Steve gave me some great advise that night and we've been in loose contact on and off since then, as a side note -- I have Steve in my phone as "Steve the Spy" since that convention, I'll probably not change that. And what I've left out to this point is that standing to my left near Wayne was someone else I'd recognized and respect greatly and was too intimidated to talk with -- but Steve says my name and this person turns to me, grabs my hand and says "Jim Hogan! I read your blog!" and wouldn't let go of my hand. There aren't enough words to describe how good it feels to have one of the County's most active and dedicated volunteers, John Costigan himself, recognize you and admit to being a reader of a silly little blog.

John and I sat down and had a long talk about the state of the party in Long Branch, how best to move forward, the challenges, the people.... the ego... John couldn't understand why I wasn't already the chairman in Long Branch, I'd like to be... but someone who doesn't seem interested in being chair doesn't seem to want me to be chair for some reason. As I told John and others that night, becoming chairman in Long Branch would be huge for me, I'd put the same level or more of hard work into building the party in Long Branch as I have into supporting candidates, but at the end of the day, it's just a title, without it, I'd still be the hardest working Republican Committeeman in Long Branch and I'd still be working hard to grow this party and support its great candidates. For the record, none of the other Republican committeemen from Long Branch seemed to make it to the Holiday party, I'd even offered a ride to one who I know doesn't drive.

And I know that this blog entry has gotten long, but if I haven't convinced you yet that this party has changed for the better, then there are just two more people who I need to tell you more about and I'll keep it brief because you (hopefully) know these people already.

First is our current Monmouth County Chairman Joe Oxley. I had suggested to our group of committee people (the 5 of 11 that seem to want to be involved) that it would be great if we could get the entire (yeah, ***all*** 11) committee together, get everyone involved and motivated and working together -- and to do that, we could ask through contacts I had, mostly Marianne and Hank from above, to have Joe Oxley send a notice of a meeting to the 11 people, get everyone together, and asking that they consider nominating and electing me chair. Everyone seemed to be on board and through connections made, I received an email from Joe himself inviting me to a breakfast. This is a big part of why and how the party has changed, the chairman wants to work with the committee. Some people, self included, have complained about Joe in the past. Those people, self-included, probably never made the effort to reach out to Joe. That the chairman of the feared "Establishment" was willing to come have breakfast and try to understand what was going on in little ol' Long Branch is huge. I know we don't NEED the chairman involved to organize, but it certainly makes Long Branch and our organization more credible, more than just a "fringe neighborhood group". I thank Joe for everything he has done for this party, and for inviting me to breakfast and working with us. Hopefully the rest of the Long Branch committee is still on board with the plan we discussed and hopefully I can become chairman and work with Joe and the others I've talked about to grow the party in Long Branch. I fear any other direction may result in another failed effort in Long Branch, as many committees have been tried, and failed, here.

And finally, the last person you probably already know, or should, and I can't thank this person enough for everything he has done for me and the party and the candidates -- is Art Gallagher. If you want to talk about a grassroots, conservative activist willing to embrace new comers like me, and probably you, Art is the man. I won't go into too many more details because it's easy enough to get to know Art, just read his blog and do some hard work and he'll notice you.

In any case, I hope that my readers here know, and I hope that I can spread the word to non-readers, just other AverageNoOnes like me, that the Monmouth County Republican Party really has changed. I know someone, or many, will say "no Jim, YOU'VE changed, traitor!" -- it's just not the case, I still support the same types of candidates and the same principles I've always supported and I still just want to pay less taxes, shoot my guns and be free from government over-regulation.

And now that you know that the party isn't some evil empire, I hope you are motivated to get involved, and not just sitting around complaining. I'll welcome you, and so will the rest of the party.


Chris said...

So what do you think that has changed? Is it just Joe Oxley's leadership? Because the rest of the establishment is the same, maybe just a couple of years older. I've read about the old GOP, but only got to know it after 2008, and thought they're mostly very good people. Can't imagine how all of them could've been that bad just one year earlier.

Candice said...

Great post James! I really enjoyed reading this - I've read your posts intermittently in the past, and I think it's really inspiring that you've cast aside your reservations about the so-called "Establishment" to try to build a future for Long Branch. So often, especially in local Republican politics, people find themselves feeling so angry and disgruntled that they are more than happy to eat their own, and it's to nobody's benefit, and often is simply childish. Thank you for giving a great example of how people can separate their small ideological differences and understand the structural importance of coming together and working as a team!

James Hogan said...

Chris, you're right -- most of the individual people probably haven't changed. Even back in 08, I noted that most of the people who were willing to stop and chat were nice, good people. I also got passed by many people, I'm not sure who they were, but most of the faces I saw around Wednesday night were the same ones who at least threw me a bone and signed my petition.

Indeed, what has changed most is Oxley over Puharic. I never really got to know Adam, mostly because the first time I tried to reach out to him before the primary (around the presidential primary) I couldn't even get a call back to a few attempts; in fairness I wasn't on committee then and wasn't a candidate for anything so I suppose maybe I was asking/expecting the chair to call back an average ordinary voter. The second experience was the one I wrote about at the convention since it was slightly more personal and is the time Puharic among others bent the rules for the Senate candidate, who ended up not being the Senate candidate after all, and despite the efforts I was making, or trying to make, I still couldn't even get the time of day.

That Oxley was willing to take time out of his schedule to get involved in a city where a Republican committee doesn't seem to last more than a few weeks and comes and goes like the wind tells me that he wants to see the party grow here and elsewhere and he'll work with people to see it happen, the key again being work -- Joe's not just sitting around expecting magic to happen and I'm not just sitting around expecting magic to happen. Hopefully anyone who reads my blog and is/was avoiding getting involved with the county's efforts knows/sees that Oxley seems to be a reasonable and rational individual who cares about the party and the local voters. Worst case a reader will get involved, not think too highly of Oxley and/or "the establishment" and continue on their merry way -- best case, we'll all be able to work together to find the better candidates and see Republicans in office.

Candice, thanks. One thing I've been trying to figure out is why people are so angry/where that anger comes from? I try not to forget, but the snooze makes it difficult, we're still citizens of the best, most free, most prosperous nation in the world. Granted, there is a lot of work to be done to make sure that we leave a better nation than we started with for the future generations and I for one don't think that nationally we're heading in a direction to accomplish that goal, but regardless, at the end of the day, we Americans should all be the happiest people on Earth for all that we have -- the anger is what seems childish to me, but the snooze and some candidates seem to try to get people angry as some sort of rally cry, or money making carny act, its bizarre to me.

Guess said...

So let me see if I understand you James. You went to a party and people were nice to you so they must have changed. Is that right so far?

Then, I guess you don't know that Diane "I bought my shot" Gooch was helped by some of those same establishment people. Did you know every Gooch endorsement by elected Republican officials was pushed along by threats? Did you know yearly contributors were told they were not going to play any part in the Monmouth Republican party if they contribute to Anna Little?

Ask....well, I won't sell her out, but thanks for the list of contributors who gave the $300 to keep off Oxleys radar. It would have been nice to have more money in a US congress campaign would't it James? Did you see how much more Pallone had? Where was the county Republican help?

Let's see James, Anna Little is already getting negative literature sent out against her for her 2012 campaign. Let's see who the establishment promotes next year. I bet they have lots of money and offer to support other candidates who can't raise funds.

James, your 16% charm was that you weren't sucking up to a County chairman.

Are there good people in the Republican party, hell yes! Were they good people before you came along, hell yes" Are many of the people you listed part of the corruption within the party, HELL YES!

James Hogan said...

my response is here: