This post is not about CD-6.
This post is about the chairmanship of the Monmouth County GOP. Next Tuesday, the Monmouth County Republican Committee will elect a chairman. Joe Oxley is seeking a second term. Howell Township Chairman John Costigan, until recently one of Oxley's most public supporters, is challenging.
It is often said that a month is a lifetime in politics. There is a lot of truth to that. That is probably why so many have such short memories.
Given the state our county party was in two years ago, Joe Oxley has done a remarkable job in his rookie term. If you want to get a sense of how bad it was two years ago and have nothing to do this weekend, pray for rain and spend the weekend snuggled up with your computer reading this set of posts from the MMM archives. Start by scrolling back to the first post and come forward chronologically.
If you have a life and don't want to spend your weekend that way, take my word for it. The Monmouth GOP was a putrid mess two years ago. After twenty years of complete dominance, we lost two Freeholder seats in consecutive elections. We were $35K in debt and on the verge of eviction from our county headquarters. Factionalism was rampant, public and loud. The media was out to destroy us. The previous chairman demanded obedient compliance and as a result earned many a Jersey salute.
Two years later, we have control of the Freeholder Board. We have a Republican governor elected by large measure from the enormous plurality earned in Monmouth County. We lead 8 towns that were previously under Democratic control. We are on sound financial footing. We are poised to win 2 congressional seats that were previously given up on forever.
All the complaints about Joe Oxley, many of which are valid, are insignificant in the face of the turnaround. The turnaround was not easy. The hardest part was probably navigating the egos and putting up with the whines of people he considered friends. Doing the right thing for people he didn't consider friends, because it was the right thing, couldn't have been easy either.
We were extremely fortunate that Joe Oxley gave up a sure shot at re-election to Sheriff for the purpose of righting our ship. At the time he was one of the most popular and respected leaders in the county. If there was someone else who could have stepped up and taken the chairmanship by acclamation, they are still unknown. Joe traded his popularity and comfort to right our ship.
If Joe had not done what he did, Kim Guadagno would be in her second term in the Assembly. Jon Corzine might be governor. Sean Byrnes might be a Freeholder. We'll never know. But if you don't give Oxley credit for the 2009 results, you can't blame him for the 2008 results.
Joe Oxley did a remarkable job in his rookie term as chairman. The critics and second guessers do have valid points, but only Joe was in the impossible and thankless job. He will make adjustments in a second term, yet the critics and second guessers will still whine.
Joe Oxley should be re-elected by acclamation on Tuesday, with no challenge.
UPDATE 11:06 AM
I received an email from a good friend about this post. He doesn't agree with me. I think our debate would add value to MMM readers.
Let's see if I get this straight:
1. Oxley misses the giant Tea Party going on right in front of him;
Who did see it? Work on who to give the party lines to started last November. No one saw what happened on Tuesday coming, not to the extent that it did. Anybody who wasn't shocked by David Corsi's numbers was in a coma or is lying about it now. These are volitile political times. We need to judge our political leaders on how they respond to the voters' message, not on their failure to see an unpredictable result coming 7 months ago.
2. He fails to move the electorate to vote for the party candidate;
If you are talking about the primary, well I think that was a good thing.
He will be instrumental in bringing the party and the Tea Parties together for the coming campaigns in CD-6 and CD-12. This year's election will not be a repeat of the Schundler vs Franks primary followed by the Schundler vs. McGreevey general wherein Schundler had only tacit party support.
3. Turnout of the primary is lower than a board of ed election;
And that is Joe Oxley's fault? The turnout in this primary was huge compared to 08, 06 and 04. In CD 6, Tuesday's turnout was only about 2000 votes less than it was in last years gubernatorial contest.
4. Every pundit on television Tuesday night called him "impotent."
Great idea! Let's pick our chairman based upon what Brigid Harrison, Jim Hooker and Patrick Murray said to less people than read this blog (or yours maybe). I like Patrick, but Hooker makes Scott Sipprelle sound like Ronald Reagan. In the words of Diane Gooch about Harrison, "No Comment!"
They also said that Anna Little was a four term Mayor of Highlands. She's finishing her one term this year.
Art Gallagher adds that up and says "Heckuva Job Joe - Stay Aboard!"
That's right. And you should too. If you don't learn from history you are bound to repeat it. Spend the weekend reading my archives.
Buck stops where?
With Joe. He's not perfect, but his results are impressive, especially given what he inherited.