Several prominent figures in New Jersey’s Republican Party will not be attending the party’s National Convention that opens in Cleveland next week. Among them are former Govs. Tom Kean Sr. and Christie Whitman, Congressmen Leonard Lance and Scott Garrett, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno, and Sen. Joe Kyrillos.
They join a list of national names that also are giving the convention a miss, including George Bush 41, George Bush 43, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and John McCain.
Of New Jersey’s absentees, Guadagno has a strong excuse; she will be acting chief executive of the state in Gov. Chris Christie’s absence. Other excuses have ranged from attending a child’s swim meet to handling constituent services. For most, the reason has to do with Donald Trump, the party’s expected presidential nominee.
Kyrillos said, “Every time I try to give him a chance, want to like him, try to like him, he says something that I can’t quite deal with.”
Sen. Sam Thompson, a Trump delegate, said, “They need to wake up because at this point it’s either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, that’s the choice.”
Sen. Kevin O’Toole, who endorsed Trump after Gov. Chris Christie dropped out of the race to be the party’s standard-bearer, said Trump presents a sea change for the party. “I think the traditional Republican Party as we know it is dead. I think it’s a very different party going forward,” he said.
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