Sussex GOP Chair endorses Crabb

Sussex Republican County Chair Ailish Hambel formally endorsed Freeholder Phil Crabb for re-election last evening in an email sent to Republican county committee members, elected officials, and activists.  Hambel, who holds a patronage job in the Christie administration, attached a cryptic endorsement of Crabb to a funding appeal.  Hambel wrote:


Please help me make sure we keep Phill on the board he has experience, knowledge of the issues in Sussex County. We need that right now. Thank you for your consideration of these issues.

No mention was made about what "these issues" might be.

The "re-election fundraiser" for Freeholder Crabb is being held on Thursday, May 1st, at the Franklin Firehouse Hall, 137 Buckwheat Road, Franklin.  The event is called a "Gourmet Spaghetti Dinner" and is being catered by the Homestead Restaurant.  Tickets start at $60 per person.

We couldn't help but notice who the checks are being collected by:

Please make checks payable to: Crabb for Freeholder

Please mail to: Dennis J. Mudrick P.O. Box 1014, Sparta, NJ 07871

Is this being done because Freeholder Mudrick can be trusted to file his campaign finance reports and Freeholder Crabb can't?



The Changing Alliances in the Sussex County Freeholder race

In his April 5th column in the New Jersey Herald, Rob Jennings noted that Freeholder Phil Crabb's onetime campaign manager was now working for Ron Bassani, who is challenging Crabb in the June 3rd Republican primary: 

One other detail in Bassani’s opening statement drew notice last week. Listed as his campaign contact was Kelly Ann Hart.

“Kelly is helping me design a website and helping me with fundraising,” Bassani explained.

Hart, president of K Hart Consulting since 2004, is a former executive director of the Sussex County Republicans with contacts beyond the region.

She is campaign manager for Murray Sabrin, a Ramapo College professor seeking the Republican nomination against U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

Locally, she provided consulting in 2013 to the “Hometown Conservative Team,” a Republican ticket of six incumbents seeking re-election headed by state Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24th Dist., and including Vohden.

Much more intriguing, though, is her prior role with Crabb.

Crabb acknowledged that Hart was his campaign manager against Mudrick in 2011. Now she’s working for Crabb’s opponent.

Bassani, of Hart, said, “I’m glad I was able to track her down.”

Perhaps an understatement there.

Jennings' column set-off a series of vitriolic personal attacks on former Crabb manager/ now Bassani manager Kelly Hart in the comments section on the newspaper's website.  Using aliases, Wantage residents Ann Smulewicz and Kathleen Gorman engaged in name-calling and character assassination designed to damage Hart's personal and professional reputation.    They were joined in this personal attack upon an unelected, private citizen, by other acknowledged supporters of Freeholder Crabb.

Smulewicz voiced her support for Freeholder Crabb in the comments section of Jennings' April 5th column and on Thursday evening at a Stillwater Taxpayers Association meeting, Gorman sat with Freeholder Crabb and gave him her support.  It is important to note that neither Smulewicz or Gorman in any way know Hart besides what they've been told by others about her.  In another word:  Rumors.

While it is clear that Crabb's supporters are angry with Hart for switching sides, what goes generally unacknowledged is why she switched sides. The reason for the switch is pretty obvious when you take a moment to look at Crabb's campaign filings filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Crabb stiffed Hart.

Freeholder Crabb, whose habit of not paying to attend campaign events if he can help it is widely acknowledged, never paid Kelly Hart for her work on his successful 2011 re-election bid.  Crabb faced Dennis Mudrick, who was recruited to run against Crabb by former Freeholder and current Sussex County Community College Trustee Glen Vetrano.  Crabb won the primary against Mudrick by a vote of 2,803 to 2,396 (54% to 46%).  Mudrick went on to win the 2012 primary, coming in behind Gail Phoebus but ahead of Helen Wilson LeFrois.

A look at Crabb's 2011 campaign finance reports shows that Hart's mother was Crabb's biggest contributor, with the Skylands Victory PAC coming in second.  In fact, Kelly Hart's family has contributed over $100,000 to Sussex County Republicans, Republican candidates, and Republican causes.

Crabb likes getting paid.

Like most people -- Kelly Hart included -- politician Phil Crabb likes getting paid.  He takes his full salary as a Sussex County Freeholder and -- as the only Sussex County Freeholder who takes the health and benefits package -- is the most expensive Freeholder in terms of the cost to the taxpayers.  Crabb is doing nothing wrong in this, it is what he is entitled to as an elected Freeholder. 

The point is this:  If you like getting paid and if you take every penny coming your way, then you should have sympathy with others who also like to get paid for their work and you should pay them, especially when they are successful on your behalf.

What you should not do is to round up a posse of haters to trash a woman's reputation simply because she has found someone to work for who will pay her and not stiff her like you did.  Fair enough?


Is Rick Shaftan running Steve Lonegan's campaign again?

Steve Lonegan, last year's candidate for United States Senate and one-time Bergen County Mayor, is now a candidate for the U.S. Congress down in South Jersey.  Last year's campaign was noted for its frequent off-color mistakes by Lonegan -- everything from a tweet that Lonegan had to defend as "not meant to be racist", to an election eve meltdown by Sussex County's top political consultant, Rick Shaftan, who was running Lonegan's campaign.  Shaftan bashed Senator Cory Booker for acting "like a gay guy would".  Full coverage can be found here:


There's something about Steve Lonegan's anger and arrogance that reminds us of George Wallace, the late Democratic Governor of Alabama.  Shaftan has always sought to reinforce that image, going as far as donning a Strom Thurmond tee-shirt for their moment of film celebrity in the documentary, Anytown U.S.A.

All this came to mind after Lonegan tweeted his newest campaign attack ad -- against the latest in a long list of opponents, Tom MacArthur of Toms River.  Lonegan attacked MacArthur, a former small town mayor like himself, for "promoting diversity" because a small number of affordable housing units are to be built in his small town.  Now Lonegan knows, as all 500-plus small town mayors in New Jersey know, that they have to comply with state law and allow affordable housing to be built.  And the reason this works for many small towns is that much of that housing is snapped up by seniors on fixed incomes who face having to move out of state, away from children and grandchildren, if they fail to find cheaper accommodation. 

This all brings to mind the 2008 municipal election in Sparta Township, the most overtly racist in Sussex County memory, that pitted incumbent Scott Seelagy against Carey Ann Shaftan, then the wife of Rick Shaftan.  Shaftan's campaign literature equated affordable housing with people of color migrating from Newark into Sussex County.  Shaftan warned against a wave of incoming "mental patients, ex-cons, drug addicts, and others" who would "increase crime and destroy property values."  Shaftan's literature used the same housing motif found in the attack ad Lonegan tweeted.

Shaftan ran on a platform that "no one has a right to live anywhere they want, people have a right to live where they can afford. That is what America is all about."   Shaftan lost that election, but not before a whole lot of people were offended.  Now, six years later, it's déjà vu all over again. 

If Steve Lonegan is serious about winning a General Election, he needs to curb his baser instincts and wise up. 




Memo to Byram Township Council: Talk to your colleague

Scott Olson, Byram’s out-of-control councilman, is at it again.  This time he has retweeted a snide tweet from a friend who appears to be trying to spread a baseless rumor about Governor Christie having an extramarital affair.  Here is what was posted and then retweeted by Byram Councilman Olson:

Susie Madrak@SusieMadrak 4h

How come the national media hasn't caught on to Gov. Christie's own little Olivia Pope problem?

Retweeted by scott olson


“Olivia Pope” is a reference to the television series “Scandal” in which a White House spin doctor (Pope) has an extramarital affair with her boss (the chief executive, the President of the United States).

Shouldn’t Olson’s colleagues on the Byram Township Council have a talk with him about spreading this kind of malicious rumor?  It doesn’t do the reputation of the Council or the Township any good at all.


The pro-tax radical who runs Byram politics

Councilman Scott Olson made no bones about it.  He is supporting the candidacies of Jim Oscovitch for Mayor and Marie Raffay for Council.  And it’s easy to understand why – they supported Olson when he ran for Byram Council in 2011.

Led by Scott Olson, Oscovitch and Raffay make up the current political establishment in Byram Township.   Who is Scott Olson?

Well, you can tell a lot about someone by who he hates, and Scott Olson hates Republicans Governor Chris Christie and Senator Steve Oroho.  Olson runs a blog and he has posted a lot of nasty stuff about the Governor and Senator Oroho. 

Olson’s blog has attacked Senator Oroho for supporting Fair School Funding legislation that would bring more education money to Sussex County to provide property tax relief.  Olson attacks Oroho for fighting for Sussex County taxpayers.

Apparently, Olson wants most of the state income tax money we pay flowing to school districts like Hoboken to provide property tax relief for the millionaires and corporations there.  This ignores the fact that Hoboken has a far higher median income than Sussex County and higher education attainment levels.  Even some Democrats agree that Hoboken is now too rich to get so much of our tax money – but that hasn’t stopped Olson’s blog from attacking Senator Oroho for fighting for us.

Olson’s blog calls Senator Oroho “radical” for proposing legislation that would prevent companies who knowingly hire illegal aliens from receiving state contracts.  So let’s get this straight.  Is Olson advocating giving state contracts to companies who cut costs by BREAKING THE LAW to hire cheap illegal labor instead of American workers or Immigrants with legal work visas?

The Olson blog has opposed giving women the opportunity to have an ultrasound or sonogram prior to having an abortion. 

Olson’s blog has attacked Governor Christie and Senator Oroho for their success in passing the 2% cap on local government spending.  The cap has kept spending down with the result that property taxes have not gone up like they did under Jon Corzine.  Olson obviously misses the “good old days” of huge property tax hikes and wants them to return.

With winter heating costs what they are, it is nice to know that Olson supported the RGGI fuel tax.  He called the bi-partisan legislation to repeal the heating tax “right wing”.

Olson also backs the Highlands Act, in which sate government has taken the property use of Sussex County residents without compensation of any kind.  This is unfair any way you look at it, but Olson doesn’t seem to care about his neighbors and their rights.

Olson’s blog finds it “shocking” that Senator Oroho wants to make English the official language of New Jersey.

Olson’s blog advocates very strongly for abortion.  It has attacked Senator Oroho for suggesting that parents be notified when their minor children receive medical or surgical procedures relating to pregnancy.

Olson has described Sussex County as “militia-friendly” – which is a slur on the people he claims to represent as a Byram Councilman.  Does Jim Oscovitch and Marie Raffay share Olson’s contempt for Sussex County and the residents of Byram Township?  Do they share his agenda?

They should set the record straight and in a hurry.