A Guest Editorial by our friend Haystacks Calhoun:
Here is how the process is supposed to work. A county party, after much deliberation and a vote, places the names of individuals it has chosen to represent its party on the primary ballot. Others can also obtain a place on the primary ballot through the petition process. The primary election is held and the winner represents the party in the general election. Yes, the party’s original choice almost always wins the primary, usually running unopposed. However, there is a process here that is to be followed.
Now let’s look at what the Ds have done this election cycle. The CCDO chose Jannarone to stand for re-election and her name appeared on the primary ballot and she was elected to be a D candidate in the general election for freeholder. However, a few days after the primary, Jannarone suddenly decides she doesn’t want to run and drops out. This permitted the CCDO to bypass the primary process and install Tony Surace as their candidate for the general election. Jannarone’s name should not have been on the primary ballot, if she had doubts about running in the general election. The Ds actions here did not respect the process.
Dunkins did just the opposite. He decided before the primary that he did not want to run, and so his name was not placed on the primary ballot, and Carol Musso was chosen to replace him. Her name appeared on the primary ballot and she was elected to be the D candidate for the position Dunkins now holds. However, after Lou resigned, Dunkins decides he does want to stay on the board and announces he will run for Lou’s seat. So we have Dunkins running for Lou’s old seat and Musso running for Dunkins’ seat! Crazy! There may also be a bit of procedural snag. If Dunkins (assuming he were to win) is to be sworn in, as Greco suggested, right after Election Day (as opposed to the January re-organization), he cannot do so because he is already a freeholder and could not occupy two freeholder seats simultaneously. I suppose he could resign his current seat in order to occupy Lou’s old seat but such a maneuver seems ludicrous. If Dunkins wanted to remain a freeholder, then he should have allowed his name to be placed on the primary ballot. Again the Ds are not respecting the process with their “musical chairs” approach to filling vacant freeholder seats.
And of course there is Pab Sungenis and the missing signature sheets of his petition. At a meeting of the CCDO last April signature pages of a nominating petition for him to run in the primary against Jeff Van Drew were removed, thus preventing Paul from having his name placed on the primary ballot. I don’t believe anyone has ever offered up any explanation or initiated any investigation as to what happened to Pab’s petition signatures. Pab – on his birthday no less! — did get shouted at by Long at last Wednesday’s CCDO meeting. Again more blatant disrespect for the process and members who disagree with leadership positions. (Maybe Pab should take his novel “Go To Hell” with him at the next meeting. He could just hold it up when it looks like another shouting match is brewing and thus save himself some breath.)
Now to the County issues. According to documents filed with ELEC, Jannarone, Musso, and Whelan each made the exact same following contributions from their campaign funds: 7 June 2011, $250 (total $750 from three candidates) to “Friends of Jim Fazzone”; 23 June 2011, $250 (total $750 from three candidates) to “EFO for Gail Cook for Senate.” Who is Jim Fazzone. He is the D mayor of Burlington and is currently in a tough re-election campaign (see http://www.phillyburbs.com/my_town/burlington/sinking-ships-sunken-leadership/article_4e4afcc1-aec8-54f9-ace5-85fb10d781cd.html for a commentary on his “sunken leadership.”) Gail Cook is the D State Senate candidate running in the 7th District (Burlington, Camden Cos.) against R Diane Allen.
Now I know that $1500 in campaign contributions is small potatoes by anyone’s standards. However, it is worth asking why are the three (former in the case of Jannarone) D candidates simultaneously contributing any money to election campaigns taking place in Burlington and Camden County? How would Cumberland County be affected by Mr. Fazzone losing his re-election campaign for mayor in Burlington? As I noted in my 24 June post on the new CCDO co-chairs, Long has a long history of giving much more money to political interests to the north of Cumberland County as opposed to in the County itself. The D candidates should explain why they are using their campaign funds to make contributions to campaigns out of the county.
Yes, the Ds have a strong slate with respect to name recognition and geography. However, disrespect for the process and the county to which they represent is not a recipe for success. An educated electorate wouldn’t put up with it. The Rs have a little over two months to educate the electorate, and convince them to not simply vote for a familiar name or face.