MONMOUTH COUNTY-With reports abound that influential New Jersey GOP powerbroker Bill Palatucci has flipped on his initial support of Hirsh Singh and the results of the Union and Somerset County GOP Conventions could serve as clear evidence that a party shift is in play.
Last year, Palatucci endorsed Singh, but a recent party flip to pharmaceutical executive Rikin Mehta shows signs of meddling by North Jersey GOP leadership.
Palatucci denies that accusation.
When asked if he flipped on his endorsement of Singh, he said, “No, just proud that we have several good candidates seeking the nomination.”
“[Rikin], like Hirsh, brings a fresh perspective to such an important campaign in 2020. I’ve also met Tricia Flanagan and equally impressed with her enthusiasm for the campaign and her conservative message,” he said. “I understand that Tricia has been under the weather but I hope she’s back on the campaign trail as well. Nothing wrong with having a large contingent of qualified candidates.”
Palatucci, according to reports was walking Mehta around during a gala held by Monmouth County GOP Chairman Shaun Golden last week. While Hirsh Singh may carry the popular vote in New Jersey, right now the importance of the election is on the backroom wheeling and dealing necessary to win the party line at each of the state’s 21 GOP county conventions. So far, Rikin leads 2-0, but can his North Jersey success carry over into Central and South Jersey where Singh’s popularity reigns supreme?
The other question is will shore area and southern New Jersey Republican endorse a pharmaceutical executive who promotes protecting “Big Pharma” opioid supply chains where those drugs have created an epidemic that kills thousands of New Jerseyans annually?
The GOP, which thus far has led the fight against the opioid epidemic may be selling itself out for Mehta who is seen, according to one influential insider, as nothing more than piggy bank for GOP campaign professionals who think the 2020 U.S. Senate race is a lost cause against Cory Booker.
Mehta has hired GOP strategist Chris Russell, of Jackson Township, to manage his campaign.
One influential insider said of Palatucci’s flip, “It’s obvious, he screwed Hirsh.”