Just one time I would like to see the Cumberland County Democratic organization come into an election year without gaming the system. So far, they have one confirmed candidate. They don’t have a second candidate, so they are going to nominate somebody that they don’t plan to really run in order to fill the spot until they find a stronger candidate closer to election day.
County Republican leaders set their party’s ticket last weekend, endorsing the re-election bids of Mary Gruccio and Thomas Sheppard.
On Thursday night, county Democratic leaders picked Millville City Commissioner Joseph Derella to run for one of the two contested seats.
County Democratic Party Co-Chairman Doug Long said the party will meet again on Tuesday to discuss a second candidate. There’s a chance that whoever is picked on Tuesday might not be the candidate to run in November, he said.
Doug Long is playing the same games that Lou Magazzu played as chair. When Doug Long says there a chance that this candidate won’t run in November, you can pretty much count on the fact that the CCDO has absolutely no intention of selecting a serious candidate for that empty slot right now.
The Republicans have one strong candidate, Tom Sheppard. Tom has tenure on the board, and a proven ability to work in a bipartisan manner. Gruccio, unfortunately has divided loyalties, and I have to suspect her new position as superintendent of the Vineland School System will be a liability on the upcoming election. How can she faithfully perform the very difficult job for which she is being paid a handsome salary and also attend to her duties as Freeholder?
The CCDO made a spectacular move in selecting Joe Derella. Derella excels as a city commissioner in Millville, with a head for numbers that is unequaled in the city, and I suspect he will bring the same acumen to the county. I have always found him to be honest and upright, even at times when we disagree. He is definitely above reproach and a top-notch candidate. He is also a non-partisan team player, opting for integrity when it matters.
As I see it, Derella is the Dems trump card, and will tilt the balance back to their favor in November. Derella will take Gruccio down, and frankly she hasn’t done too much to help the Republicans in their cause anyway. So who will the D’s bring in to be a real challenge to Sheppard? I know we can count on Doug Long to launch a vicious, filthy and nasty campaign. Will he stoop to the lies and machinations that Magazzu was know for? I suspect that he can get even dirtier – look for the first mud to be slung by the D’s, as usual. And then when the R’s fight back, Long will cry like the baby he is, screaming how it is unfair. Long has got to be the most disingenuous chair the CCDO has had in my lifetime. At least Lou was unapologetic about his shenanigans.
Anway, we might not know until September who the D’s are really running as Derella’s team-mate. Gary Simmerman would be a logical choice, he is a favorite of insiders and has plenty of experience on the money end. That, however, makes him suspect in my book. Anybody that was that familiar with the Magazzu regime cannot come out smelling too rosy. Time will tell.