Friday, March 02, 2007

County races are battles of 'North-South'

The North-South issue in Monmouth County is an important one for the upcoming selection process in Monmouth County for freeholder candidates in the Democratic Party. The Republican Party operates on a system that really does not take geopolitics into consideration all that much. They have their ways of doing things, and they seem to have been working well for them so that is all fine.

But the fact is that the engine of ballots in Monmouth is Middletown and the Bayshore. Middletown has the largest population in Monmouth's 53 communities. The Bayshore has a very active votership. But the three single towns that mean the most by way of votes in Monmouth County though, are, in order: Middletown, Howell and Wall.

Middletown and Howell are northerly towns (albeit Howell is also in the extreme West). Wall is more southerly. There are more votes up North, fewer down South. By rights, Howell is a Southern Monmouth town, but its voting dynamics are, in my opinion, a little different from the rest of Southern Monmouth.

The Bayshore includes nine towns, one of which is Middletown. But when Middletown votes the same way as the Bayshore, it is a formidable voting mass. One way to look at Middletown and the Bayshore is as one entity for campaigning purposes. This outlook makes Middletown all the more important of the three largest towns in Monmouth.

An effective argument can be made that all anyone has to decisively win in Monmouth County are those three towns, with a bump from the Bayshore, and they win the county (even if they lose the rest of it). Most voters in Monmouth are undeclared, with Republican registration only slightly higher than Democratic. The undeclareds and Indpendents decide the winners. The conclusion this is a "Red County" is not false, but exaggerated and dependent on undeclareds going "R."

Laborious campaigning in Southern Monmouth is great, once the "bread basket" issue of the core towns and areas have been well canvassed and worked. With that said, promotinig candidates from these areas (Middletown, Howell or Wall), who can work and show up and campaign in the other core areas, will be competitive, in my opinion. All they really need going into the election is the support of their hometown (Middletown, Howell or Wall) and to campaign in a reasonable way (not going door to door twice in Elberon and ignoring Howell or Middletown) and they might leave the door open for some luck.

It's good to get "message" out in Deal, Asbury, Neptune, Brielle and the like. Reality: It doesn't mean enough to make a stake there at the expense of the core areas.

But that's only an opinion about the county, and I really try not to get into the campaign stuff more than speculation.

UPDATE ON THIS POST: Howell Township Republican Johnny Costigan rightly just called me up and noted that geographically Howell is arguably more southerly. So true. My point geopolitically was and is that Howell politically lines up more with Middletown, in both parties, because of the number of committee seats held by both (60 for Howell and 92 for Middletown). Anyone who grabs both towns' votes in either party usually walks away the winner in a county committee vote. But those active committee seats represent a very active votership not common in Southern Monmouth. Wall Township, of both parties, usually takes the lead for politics among towns like Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Belmar and such.

This leaves Howell as unique: A robust votership with its own ideas, strong enough to be felt on the county level and involved in county decisions in a way other traditional "Southern" towns are not, at least at this point. The point: Howell votership is large and active and it is the second largest town in the county. Wall is the third and politically more active down south. Middletown, the Bayshore, Howell and Wall are going to come out and vote nearly every election cycle and these votes -- more than any other in the county -- will determine who will or will not win county races.

Thanks to Johnny Costigan for the input. He is a good guy who has been dedicated for a lot of years to the process.

No comments: