By JOHN T. WARD
In the rare Democratic primary race shaping up in Red Bank for June 7, all candidates from two opposing factions will share the coveted “party line,” redbankgreen has learned.
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman David G. Brown II has rejected a demand by borough party Chairman Ed Zipprich that only incumbents from the 18-member committee that runs the party be given the preferred ballot position.
The remaining 15 insurgents would have had their names listed in a separate column, which is widely regarded a disadvantage.
Instead, “all good Democrats” will get the line, Brown told redbankgreen Thursday.
The local committee comprises two representatives from each of the borough’s nine voting districts.
Zipprich, who also serves as a borough councilman, shared with redbankgreen an “open letter” sent to Brown by party regulars Monday asserting that in 2020, Brown “clearly established” a policy that “guarantees all incumbents their ballot position on the county line.”
For that reason, the letter said, the 15 incumbent members of the Zipprich slate, and the three of the insurgent team, should share the county line.
Three candidates recruited to replace Triggiano, Horgan and Kofman would have been denied the county line, the letter acknowledged.
“While we welcome all citizens to participate in the Democratic electoral process, we believe the guardrails of fairness and your own established practices must preclude the insurgent slate’s placement on the Monmouth County Democratic line,” the letter said.
Here’s the full letter: Open Letter Chairman Brown 032822
But Brown had already rejected that argument, he told redbankgreen, and made it known “either vocally or via email to all sides.” He planned to reiterate the decision in a letter to Zipprich Friday, he said.
“The incumbents are not guaranteed the county line,” he said. “My decision was to put all the good-standing Democrats on the line.”
As a result, Democratic voters in Red Bank will see four candidates for their district’s two seats in the same column. The order of the names will be determined by lottery attended by both slates, Brown said.
Brown said he does not believe position matter will much in the Red Bank race, “but there will be some people think it does, so the fairest way to do it is by lottery,” he said.
In response, Zipprich told redbankgreen that Brown “moved the goal post and that’s his decision.
“Normally in a democratic process, rules are established by the parliamentarian and are many times governed by the organization’s by-laws,” he said via email. “I do hope that other Democratic chairs around the county are paying attention to this.”
Horgan, along with party secretary Kate Okeson, is suing Zipprich, the local party and the borough, in an attempt to unseat Councilwoman Angela Mirandi, who was appointed to fill a vacancy in February. Horgan and Okeson contend that as committee members, they were excluded from the discussions that resulted in Mirandi’s nomination.
Triggiano, who is not a party to the lawsuit, has also said she was excluded.
The insurgent team announced their formation as a slate early Thursday, proclaiming themselves “fed up” with what they call Red Bank’s “exclusionary party machine.”
Their goals, they said, are to “bring transparency and end divisiveness” within the organization – and unseat Zipprich as chairman. His term as party chairman ends June 10.
Brown sided with Triggiano and then-running mate Hazim Yassin a year ago when they bypassed the local party nomination process and obtained an endorsement from the Monmouth County Democrats over Zipprich’s objections. (Yassin lost his primary race to Zipprich-backed Jacqueline Sturdivant, who was elected to the council with Triggiano in November.)
In the run-up to the general election, Brown publicly blasted Zipprich for “clearly not supporting” Triggiano’s race, though she, too, had won the primary.
In this year’s primary, Zipprich ally Councilman Michael Ballard is vying for the full party’s endorsement to run for mayor in the November election. So far, however, it’s not clear if he’ll face a challenge from five-term incumbent Pasquale Menna, who has not declared whether he’ll defend the seat after being dumped by the local organization.
Candidates have until Monday afternoon to declare.
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