Barlas receives another term as chairman of the Essex GOP

Rep. Al Barlas (R-Cedar Grove) was re-elected Saturday to a four-year term as Essex County Republican chairman, serving at least through the 2028 presidential primary.

“Our organization is made up of dedicated, loyal and hard-working women and men who believe in our country, our party, our candidates and the election of qualified individuals to office,” Baras said.

He ran without opposition.

Barlas became the state's youngest county chairman in 2011 when he was elected to succeed then-Senator Kevin O'Toole (R-Cedar Grove), who did not seek re-election after 12 years in office.

In the 2024 primaries—perhaps the last with organizational lines—the candidates running on Barlas' line came out on top: American Curtis Bashaw won 61%, Congressional candidate Joseph Belnome for NJ-11 received 85%, Sheriff candidate Nicholas Pansini took 74%, and their candidate for Register of Deeds and Mortgages, Jeffrey Polewka, took 73%.

After working as a staffer for O'Toole, State Senator Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) and then-Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Little Silver), Barlas was elected to the State Assembly in 2023.

Longtime Republican leader Mary Devon O'Brien, chair of the Maplewood Republican Party, was re-elected as vice chair; the new second vice chair is Joy Freeman, vice chair of the South Ward Republicans.

The O'Toole faction of the Essex GOP has been in control since 1996, when he outsmarted longtime leader John P. Renna with a “take their slogan” strategy.

Anna Harden

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