Having learned little or nothing from their mayoral defeats last year, former mayoral candidates Frank MacCormack and Tom Troyer will clash in a June election for control of the Secaucus Republican Party. MacCormack will seek to retain his seat as chairman against a challenge from Troyer. The election will be held in conjunction with the national and local primary elections in June. Primary elections are held in Secaucus yearly. In some years, as in 1999, this determines who will run as a Democrat or Republican for mayor or council. Even in off years where no challenge is made for candidates, the primary election determines the official membership of each local party, selecting committee people for each voting district. Not all of the town's parties are enduring battles over leadership. The Democrats have thusfar avoided infighting, as no candidates have emerged to challenge the incumbent Democrats during their June primary. They also have filed a slate of incumbent candidates for November's council battle: councilmen Michael Grecco, Robert Kickey and Fred Constantino. The Republicans put up no slate. Independents, who are the traditional challengers in the November election, have until June to file their slate. (Mayor Dennis Elwell said the current team of Democrats - a coalition of Independents and Democrats put together in 1999 - has worked so well and produced such positive results that infighting predicted for the group never materialized.) Party lines
In Secaucus, each of the town's three wards has four or five districts. Two committee members from each party are elected in each district. These committee members eventually nominate and vote on candidates who will run on the party line for higher office, such as councilman and mayor. The committees also elect members who will serve on the state committee level and determine candidates for even higher office such as state and federal legislators as well as state governor or president of the United States. Troyer said last week that he is definitely making the move to take over the Republican Party in Secaucus, claiming that along with the chairmanship will come the seat on the Secaucus Housing Authority. Troyer, who served five years on the SHA, was unseated in 1999 by a Democratic administration in Town Hall. Frank MacCormack sits on the SHA as the Republican representative appointed by Gov. Christie Whitman. "I want that Housing Authority seat," Troyer said. ?The point is, MacCormack can step aside and give me the seat or we'll fight for it at the polls." Troyer believes MacCormack is vulnerable partly because of the mayoral election in 1999 in which MacCormack ran, not as a Republican, but as an Independent. "Many people are upset with MacCormack because he ran for mayor last year as an independent," Troyer said. "I think it's either MacCormack or myself, and I think true Republicans will vote for me." MacCormack called Troyer "a spoiler" and said this move to take over the Republican Party will only spell trouble for all Republicans. "This is not a good thing for Secaucus," he said. Are the Republicans ripe for take-over?
Others may think the Republican Party in Secaucus ripe for takeover. Petitions filed on April 12 showed that several long-time Secaucus Democrats have filed as Republicans, raising concern over a possible attempt to undermine the Republican Party in Secaucus. The most prominent of these figures is Board of Health president Frank Mancuso, who has in the past served as campaign manager for several Democratic slates. Mancuso said he would issue a statement next week outlining the reasons for his change of party, but acknowledged the move has "raised a few eyebrows." "I've been in this town 16 years," he said. "But when I first came here I was a Republican." Troyer said he was not surprised by the move, noting that Mayor Elwell set the trend last year when he joined the Democratic slate in a primary battle against then incumbent Mayor Anthony Just. "The committee people have power," Troyer said. "Sure they'll try and jump over to take over the seats." MacCormack called it "trench warfare" and said that it violated the basic principles of Secaucus politics. "This is something that has been going on elsewhere in the county, but not in Secaucus," MacCormack said. "It appears to me these people don't have respect for the party system. This is a maneuver to eliminate all political opposition in Secaucus in order to keep control of the town. Now, this proves that Secaucus is becoming just like the rest of the county."