NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Republican candidates and their supporters gathered Thursday night to focus their energy on upcoming elections for the United States Senate, the House of Representatives, Middlesex County Freeholders, and even local council elections in 2018. The mood at North Brunswick's Green Turtle Restaurant was engaged and hopeful, with about 50 members of the GOP asserting their support for President Donald J. Trump and the party's messages of social and financial conservatism.
"We are here and we are ready to work, "said New Jersey State Republican Chairperson Doug Steinhardt, who opened the meeting. "We are making gains where can make them." He specifically cited New Jersey's Congressional District 5 which is currently represented by Democrat Josh Gottheimer and is an amalgam of numerous towns in Sussex, Bergen. Passaic, and Warren counties.
Steinhardt hit the NJ Senate race hard saying, "This is the first time in 46 years that we have the opportunity to gain a Senate seat." He went on to cite the accusations against sitting Senator Democrat Robert Menendez, who has recently been exonerated of charges involving inappropriate financial conduct. Steinhardt said that it was the GOP's job to "remind people of what Menendez has done to embarrass the people of New Jersey."
Steinhardt then introduced businessman Bob Hugin, the Republican candidate for Senate, who, ironically, hails from Union City, the same Hudson county town where Menendez grew up. Hugin, a veteran of the United State Marine Corps whose two sons are currently officers in the USMC, is the CEO of Celgene, a New Jersey-based bio-tech company.
"We must win the war of ideas," Hugin said. "Young people expect adults to live up to a standard of integrity and high values." Hugin continued to discuss issues of finance and accountability, receiving applause for the Teen Republicans, Young Republicans and other party members present.
Lucille Panos roused the crowd when she said, "Now's the time for Middlesex County Republicans to be loud and proud."
Also in the lineup were Republican candidates for freeholder Rich Castaldo of Perth Amboy and Lew Glogower of South River. Castaldo, a newcomer to politics, works for a techology company developing websites and applications: "Our state and county need to be tech-driven." He noted that he also supports early detection of cancer and is passionate about women's rights and equal opportunities for women.
Glogower, who ran and lost last year in the New Jersey State Senate District 18 general election, kept his focus on taxes and fiscal accountability for freeholders, accusing the current Democratic officials of "cronyism and nepotism." He accused those responsible in Middlesex County of "not paying their part" especially in support of Middlesex County College.
Also present was Daryl Kipnis, who will run for the seat in the House of Representatives currently held by Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, who is up for re-election. Kipnis has expressed concern for the crippling loan debt some college graduates have as they attempt to start their lives.
The New Jersey Republican Party will hold its first annual Statewide Leadership Summit on Saturday, April 14 at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City. according to program materials, "The summit will bring together Republicans from around the state to socialize, strategize, and prepare for our upcoming election season." More information can be found at www.njgop.org.