Update 6/10/10 – The vote-by-mail results have been counted and have not altered Tuesday night’s outcome of this election. Jeff has a majority of county committee members, and the party election for new municipal chair in Hawthorne must take place by Tuesday.
Update: Jeff Gardner is the new Democratic Municipal Chair of Hawthorne, NJ.
Jeff Gardner is now well-positioned to become the next Democratic Municipal Chair of his hometown of Hawthorne (Passaic), having just prevailed over longtime Municipal Chair Senator John Girgenti in a party contest for county committee seats. Voting machine results show Jeff’s slate won 19 of 26 seats, to Girgenti’s 7 seats. Still to be counted, however, are at least 79 vote-by-mail ballots, which could still change that equation. So, it’s going to be a late night in Hawthorne, which may spill into tomorrow before the obvious trend is certified as a clear win.
During this campaign, Girgenti’s team employed disreputable tactics against the upstart party reformers led by Jeff, including sending out a mailer with a snarling police dog, an ugly chain link fence and the headline: Beware of Fake Democrats, accusing Jeff’s Democrats for Hawthorne team of being secret Republicans. In fact, something like the opposite was true, as GOP stalwarts in Hawthorne seemed uncomfortable enough at the idea of change that they inserted themselves into the Democratic primary as something quite more than mere bystanders.
But assumption of voter loyalty and contempt for challengers of your own party are no substitute for shoe leather and fresh ideas.
Jeff and the team behind him showed how it’s done. His people – who include bluestatejoe – simply and plainly did their work. They were out weekends, and evenings meeting voters, laying out their plans to fellow Democrats and engaging them in the changes to come. Also a factor in Jeff’s win was the Democracy for America group he leads in Passaic County, which meets in Hawthorne, enthusiastically supports the primary process, and contributed labor and ideas to the Hawthorne party reformers.
Congratulations, Jeff. Congratulations Democrats for Hawthorne. Next comes the reorganization meeting, and the election of a new Municipal Chair. You earned change. Can’t wait to watch you make it. And I hope you have Glee Tivo’d.