Ocean County Freeholder Virginia “Ginny” Haines has been re-elected to her RNC committeewoman position Wednesday evening, after members of the New Jersey state Republican committee held their vote.
The freeholder secured her first political victory in her two re-election campaigns – for both her RNC spot as well as her bid to keep her seat on the freeholder board – with running mate Jack Kelly (yes, that Jack Kelly). The vote was held at a meeting of the New Jersey GOP, where voting members of the state Republican committee voted in favor of Haines, according to media reports.
Mrs. Haines thanked supporters Wednesday night following her victory, however Ocean County Republicans still do not appear to be 100% unified behind Trump at the moment, despite the candidate being favored by a sizable number of the county’s Republican base.
But despite her electoral success, the appointed freeholder immediately took flack from some after the results of the vote were publicized. On Ginny’s Facebook page, a critic wrote “Ginny Haines and Donald Trump don’t belong in the same sentence.”
The Trump Factor
The Ocean County Republican organization’s clientele politics have traditionally forced them to be an establishment-leaning group, with almost every step (everything from judicial nominations, to the pick of an appointed freeholder) decided in a top-down fashion by Chairman George Gilmore.
The county committee endorsement votes to hand the “party line” to chosen candidates are typically just a formality, with the real horse trading and quid-pro-quo schemes being contrived behind closed doors. It’s not like George is going to let another group like the now-defunct “Traditional Republicans of Ocean County” stop his fun.
Haines Survival A Sign Of Party Being Closer To Unification
There’s still some unifying to be done, but the freeholder’s re-election to her RNC post certainly shows where the GOP is going here in Ocean County. This, along with the news that Gilmore, Congressman Tom MacArthur and several other establishment figures in the OC GOP are on the ballot to be Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention shows that the political establishment is willing to hitch their wagons to the “Trump Train,” if only so they don’t get ran over and preserve their positions of power.
It has been abundantly clear from the beginning of his candidacy that Donald Trump has been able to tap into the rage of the so-called “silent majority” of the GOP base who felt left out by candidates controlled by special interests and party bosses, as the rejection by voters of candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio showed. Many in the GOP establishment have underestimated Trump’s success, and Gilmore likely doesn’t want to risk angering a base that has embraced Trump by withholding support of the county organization.
With a Trump nomination essentially being a foregone conclusion at this point, the embrace of the polarizing candidate allows the Gilmore crew to preserve the status quo in Ocean County, while conveniently putting the lid on any potential mutinies in the party due to a lack of support for the Republican presidential frontrunner by county Republican leadership.
Federal Government Not Nearly As Ripe For Patronage
Even if Republicans were to see their worst nightmare come true if Hillary Clinton manages to pull off a victory in November, it’s not like she’s going to take away his firm’s legal contracts or the pull the plug on crony hires at local governmental agencies. The well-oiled political machine of the OC GOP will not be vanquished by Mrs. Clinton, or even Mr. Trump for that matter.
The federal government, through the USAJOBS system along civil service laws covering federal agencies, is not nearly the same hiring pit for giving out jobs, despite what its inefficiency and cost might make one conclude.
The leader of the county Republican organization has had no trouble doling out state jobs through his Christie connection, so it’s just not worth it for Gilmore to be on the governor’s bad side. Even with a Trump loss in the general election, Gilmore wouldn’t be missing out on getting first dibs on worthless patronage jobs to give out to those who fall in line behind him.
Sure, as the head of the executive branch the president does get to make some key appointments, such as heads of federal agencies and supreme court justices, to name a few. But those federal jobs would not be as widely available as what is handed out at numerous MUAs, townships, and county agencies, all of which have been more than sufficient at putting friends and family members of elected officials on the payroll in some way, shape or form.
Will the Ocean County GOP’s newfound love for Trump – seemingly at the behest of Governor Christie – unify the party to victory in November, or will Trump tank in the general election, and bring the OC GOP down with him? You decide.