Township Republican Committee GOTV Postcard Omits Candidate’s Name

MISSING A NAME – This “get out the vote” postcard, sent by FTRMC secretary Pat Stanley, omits the name of Steve Gillooly, one of two candidates up for the committee seats.

A candidate for a municipal Republican committee seat in the 24th District is calling foul over a campaign postcard sent by the Franklin Township Republican Municipal Committee’s secretary in what he sees as a bid to keep him off the committee.

In what may be another sign of an internal rift in the local Republican organization, FTRMC secretary Pat Stanley sent out “get out the vote” postcards to Republican voters in the 24th District for the municipal committee election in June that leave out one of the two official candidates, instead asking voters to write in the candidate’s name of their choice.

Democrats and Republicans in each of the township’s 51 voting district elect two members to their respective municipal committees on primary voting day, which this year is June 4. The committees are responsible for, among other things, choosing candidates to run in various local elections.

Stanley’s postcard acknowledges one of the 24th District’s Republican candidates, Maurene Atzori, but does not mention Stephen Gillooly, who has been a committee member in that district for the last two decades and is up for re-election this year.

A graphic that purports to be part of a ballot, included on the card, shows Atzori’s name on one line, and has the phrase “Petition not filed” in the second line position. That is not true, as Gillooly submitted a petition for the election and is included on the actual ballot sent out by Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter’s office, as shown in the graphic below, and which can be found here.

Text above the graphic on Stanley’s postcard mentions that only one “excellent Republican voter has stepped up to be elected to the Franklin Township Republican Municipal Committee in District 24,” which is also not true.

“Whether you vote-by-mail, cast your ballot during Early Voting, or on Election Day itself, you will see below that Maurene D Atzori appears on the ballot and just requires your vote,” the card reads. “You could write your name and vote for yourself as write-in candidate. You could ask your neighbors to write-in your name as well. Thus, there would be two votes for the two Franklin Township-03-24 committee positions …”

Gillooly said he was “very surprised” to find out that “they were soliciting people to run against me.”

Gillooly said he spoke with FTRMC chairwoman Michele Petersen, “and she said they are actively seeking to replace committee members that do not fit what they want from the membership.”

“I thought that was just irregular,” he said.

In an email response after publication of this article, Petersen said that she has “never spoken to Mr. Gillooly regarding this matter. In response to an email inquiry from Mr. Gillooly I stated, ‘We are soliciting write-ins in all districts to fill seats with people who will join us in helping our local, county, state, and federal candidates win.'”

“It’s distressing,” Gillooly said. “I don’t believe that there’s a litmus test to be on the committee. You get votes from your district and that’s what puts you on the committee.”

“(T)he committee does not have, I don’t think, any precedent for encouraging the removal of its members to purge dissent,” he said.

Gillooly, like a large number of other Republican municipal committee members, is a supporter of former FTRMC longtime chairman Bob LaCorte, who resigned his position last year in the midst of efforts by a group of party members to oust him. Gillooly said he believed the current party leadership is trying to purge the party of any LaCorte followers.

“It’s very disappointing to see the Republicans campaigning against themselves,” he said.

When asked about specifics of this issue, Petersen issued the following statement:

“I’ve known Steve Gillooly for years as our children grew up together. He has been a friend and he is an outstanding man who serves his country and his township.

“Steve is on the ballot and has an excellent chance of being elected to represent District 24. As you know, write-ins are the underdog. Additionally, no write-in candidates for District 24 have expressed interest in running to the best of my knowledge.

“We’re looking forward to working with all residents who win RMC seats so we can fulfill the duties expected of our positions by:

  • Attending all local RMC meetings
  • Putting lawn signs on our properties
  • Attending all county meetings & conventions
  • Donating
  • Knocking on doors
  • Helping get Republicans to the polls
  • Writing letters
  • Making phone calls
  • Being poll challengers
  • Being poll workers
  • Doing community work, and . . .
  • Furthering our conservative values”

Gillooly said he also noticed that there was no attribution – also known as the “paid for by” notice – on the card, as is required by state law on political campaign material. He said he has filed a formal complaint with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission to look into it.

Stanley could not be reached for comment.

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