Mike Halfacre, Scott Sipprelle, a representive of the Larsen campaign in CD 7, Congressman Leonard Lance,Fabrizio Bivona, Shannon Wright, Anna Little and Diane Gooch
The photo above was taken moments after Scott Sipprelle gave his speech to the Middlesex County convention while delegates of the 6th district were starting to vote. Mike Halfacre appears to be on the outside looking in. Scott Sipprelle looks like the cat that ate the canary.
That pretty much sums up what happened. The second biggest suprise of the day was Sipprelle's 62% margin of victory. That Sipprelle won was not a shock. His margin of victory was.
The biggest surprise was presumed incoming Middlesex County Chairman Sam Thompson's tiraid against Halfacre while nominating Sipprelle. At least it was a surprise to those of us who had never been to Middlesex convention before.
Current Chairman Joe Leo wasn't surprised. He introduced Thompson to nominate Sipprelle, even though Sipprelle lost the screening committee vote to Halfacre. Sipprelle wasn't surprised. He sat unfazed during Thompson's rant and thanked him at the start of his remarks. The crowd wasn't surprised. They cheered Thompson on.
Halfacre ended his speech with this line, a variation of which he has been using on the trail in recent weeks:
"We don't need the rich candidate, we need the right candidate. Today, you can choose a lifelong Republican, or the other guy. A tax cutting mayor or the other guy. A social conservative, or the other guy."
Thompson got up on Leo's cue and angrily addressed Halfacre in front of the entire convention, "I'm tired of you questioning this man's (Sipprelle) Republican credentials. As a college student he was an intern for Republican U.S. Senator Pete Wilson and he's been a good Republican ever since."
It was great theater. The crowd ate it up.
This was Sam Thompson's convention. The Middlesex GOP is Sam Thompson's party.
Those who have been waiting for Sam to retire so they can move up the ladder should set their sites elsewhere. Sam Thompson has a great deal of fight left in him.
Scott Sipprelle did not defeat Mike Halfacre today. Sam Thompson did.
Not to take anything away from Sipprelle, but Thompson and his team have been working the phones and smoozing municipal leaders relentlessly since he was surprised by Halfacre's victory at the screening committee.
Thompson objected to Conservatives with Attitude's characterization, which was referred to here, that he was strong arming people. When the voting was over this afternoon, Thompson reiterated to me that he didn't strong arm anyone. "Did you check with them?" he asked me, "I don't need to strong arm. If you can't deliver what is the point?"
Whatever Sam did, it worked.