Romney & Christie in Blue Woodbridge Tonight - Minus County Republicans
Why is a Republican fundraiser being held in Democratic Woodbridge, with little to no interaction with local Republicans?
Two of the biggest Republicans in the country—including one who will be running for the presidency in November—will be in Woodbridge tonight.
Beyond that, little is known about the event. In fact, it's hard to find a Republican in Woodbridge or Middlesex County who will be attending.
No one seems to want to admit they're behind the fundraiser, where tickets start at $2,500.
Calls to Christie's office get shifted to the Republican State Committee. They refer inquiries to Romney's campaign headquarters in Boston, where all calls get routed to voicemail.
Repeated phone calls get you a volunteer on the line, who advises the curious to contact the Republicans in New Jersey.
So what's the big mystery about what should be a huge event for the township, and certainly for local and county Republicans?
State Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) is also chairman of the Middlesex County GOP. He said he first heard about the fundraiser when a reporter contacted him last week.
The state senator won't be going to the Renaissance tonight. "I'm aware of the fundraiser," said Thompson aide Laurie Curtis. "The senator isn't involved in sponsoring it. He won't be going; he's giving a keynote speech elsewhere tonight."
State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13), who is running against U.S. Senator Robert Mendendez for his senate seat, also has no knowledge of the fundraiser in Woodbridge. "It's not our event," said Meaghan Cronin, Kyrillos communications director.
Kyrillos led the campaign for Romney in 2008 for president. The governor returned the favor by appearing at a Kyrillos fundraiser here in April.
So why would two of the country's biggest named Republicans be holding a fundraiser in a town located in the bluest heart of Democratic Middlesex County while having little to no contact with local Republicans?
Republicans in Blue Woodbridge
One possible answer: Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, a longtime Democrat who had served as state treasurer under former Gov. Jim McGreevey.
McCormac had also held that position under McGreevey's successor, State Senator Dick Codey. When Corzine won the election and assumed office in 2006, he didn't appoint McCormac to continue in his state treasury position.
McCormac came back to Woodbridge to run against Mayor Frank Pelzman, who died during his tenure. Meanwhile, when it came time for Corzine to run for office again in the 2009, it was McCormac's efforts to tamp down county and township Democrats enthusiasm for Corzine that let Christie win both Woodbridge and Middlesex County in the last gubernatorial election.
Those votes garnered Christie the election.
Christie in Woodbridge
Christie was so grateful to McCormac that he appointed him to his transition team when he went to Trenton in 2010. Shortly thereafter, Christie took a walk down Main Street with a beaming McCormac by his side.
The leader of the Woodbridge GOP, John Vtraric, didn't meet with the governor during that Main Street walk.
Even so, Vtraric said he's 'flattered' that the governor and Mitt Romney will be in Woodbridge tonight. "Woodbridge is the fifth biggest municipality in the state. It shows how important Woodbridge is that both the governor and Romney are coming here," he said.
McCormac will not be in attendance at the event, his spokesman said last week.
"The mayor is a Democrat," said John Hagerty, who heads the township's Department of Communications.
Hagerty said McCormac has not endorsed either President Barack Obama for re-election or Romney in this year's presidential race.
Some Democrats may be at the gala bash tonight, but one who won't is Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), a frequent critic of Christie.
He'll be holding a counter press conference in Woodbridge tonight, criticizing both Christie's and Romney's education policies, according to a report on PolitckerNJ.
Update: After this story was posted, Sen. Kyrillos' office informed Patch that the senator will indeed be attending Gov. Romney's fundraiser tonight in Woodbridge.