By JOHN T. WARD
Sean Di Somma, whose first two years as Red Bank Republican chairman have been marked by both the party’s resurgence and bitter infighting, will stay on in the post, he tells redbankgreen.
Though he said he had told party loyalists on Sunday that he would forego a second term in order to devote more time to his wife and infant daughter, Di Somma said Wednesday that calls by “internet trolls” and “local Democrats” for his resignation convinced him to stay for a second term, which begins in June, and through the November election.
“Unfortunately, given some of the vitriol and hatred being spewed by sleazy, classless politicians and local Democrats, it’s clear my work isn’t done,” Di Somma said in a post on one of his two Facebook pages Tuesday night.
“Also, this is going to be a hard election and while we have a clear advantage, we are still going to need to execute well,” he told redbankgreen via text Wednesday.
Di Somma’s announcement came two days after he engineered the ouster of incumbent Councilwoman Cindy Burnham from the 2016 GOP ballot for two open council seats. Instead, the local GOP committee chose Brian Hanlon, who was briefly a council candidate in 2014, and Kellie O’Bosky Colwell. to face off against the likely Democratic candidates, incumbent Kathy Horgan and newcomer Erik Yngstrom.
Burnham has given contradictory statements over her plans to seek a second term as an independent. She said she’ll announce her decision Thursday.
After losing the 2013 race — which saw Burnham, as his nominal running mate, win a council seat — Di Somma succeeded Jack Minton as party chair in June, 2014. That year, he also ran for council a second time, but watched from the sidelines as his running mate, newcomer Linda Schwabenbauer, sailed to victory without him.
Burnham’s 2013 win gave the GOP its first seat on the governing body after seven years with an all-Democratic mayor and council. She and Di Somma were at arm’s length throughout that race, campaigning separately, and the animosity spilled into the open in recent weeks with a war of words in redbankgreen comments.
On Monday, after her ouster from the ballot, Burnham called Di Somma “despicable, hateful and jealous,” an attack that he called “character assassination” by a “desperate and failed” politician.
Under Di Somma, the party claimed two more council seats in the 2015 election, which saw victories by his hand-picked candidates, Mike Whelan and Mark Taylor. That gave the Republicans their first majority since 1990.
Di Somma told redbankgreen Wednesday that there was no one in line to fill the chairmanship had he stepped down. But that’s not why he’s staying on, he said.
“I could probably find someone,” he said. “It’s more of an issue that the Red Bank GOP isn’t going to let internet commenters and Democrats dictate the happenings of our party.”