By Fred Snowflack
Back at last month’s Morris GOP convention, a veteran county Republican sized up the party’s current challenge. He hates to admit it, he said, but Joe Biden carried Parsippany last fall.
In truth, Biden won the township pretty easily – by more than 3,000 votes.
Voter registration figures in Parsippany updated this month begin to explain things.
As township Democrats were delighted to point out in a press release, there are now more registered Dems in the township than Republicans. The scorecard reads 11,700 Democrats and 11,659 Republicans, according to the release. This likely is the first time it’s ever happened in Parsippany.
Matt Clarkin, the town’s Democratic chair, offered the usual pablum about having great volunteers. But then he got to the gist of the matter:
“But a lot of it has been a natural shift as the Republican Party has moved far to the right of Parsippany voters,” he said.
This change is of particular interest in Parsippany, where Democratic Mayor Michael Soriano faces reelection this year, but it’s not just happening there.
Just look at the latest registration figures from the congressional districts covering Morris County – the 7th and the 11th.
Democrats now outpace Republicans by about 13,000 voters in CD-7 and by about 10,000 in CD-11.
Go back just five years and Republicans were the dominant party in the township and in both congressional districts.
It is customary for some to explain this turnaround by pointing to “changing demographics.”
That may be true to some extent, but Clarkin’s observation makes more sense.
Just about all elections come down to winning the “center,” – people whose views do not strongly align with either political party.
On that score, Democrats can thank Donald Trump for pushing that “center” away from Republicans through an uncompromising embrace of far right views on such things as immigration, guns and environmental regulations and, of course, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
Do Republicans agree Trump is, or at least was, the problem?
That’s an open question and one that is the subject of some internal debate.
The former president still has a considerable presence, dispatching regular statements and commentaries through his Save America PAC.
Some of this intra-party skirmishing will be on display in committee races in this year’s GOP primary. This is an insiders’ game, but a relevant one just the same.
On that score, it’s worth noting that in Morris County a couple from Long Valley, Ali and Anna Aydin, are seeking seats on the Republican state committee. The incumbents are long time party activists Larry Casha and Christina Ramirez.
It’s easy to see where the Aydins fall in the GOP’s internal debate.
Their ballot slogan is “Make New Jersey Great Again.”