Board of Education trustee Michael Alonso recently sent a letter to New Jersey Republican Chairman Douglas Steinhardt, asking Steinhardt to intervene in elections held by the Bayonne Republican Committee and urge the removal of Vincent Cuseglio, Chairman of the Republican Committee.
He wrote the letter after Alonso’s Republican allies lost in the Nov. 5 Board of Education election.
Cuseglio has made a number of across-the-aisle endorsements in Bayonne elections. While it’s not unheard of for committee leaders to do so in local, nonpartisan races, losing your own party’s endorsement is a significant setback to any campaign’s chances. Alonso described Cuseglio’s endorsements as “treachery.”
Hudson County’s Republican Committee elections are in June.
“Please be advised that the Chairman of the Bayonne Republican City Committee, Vincent Cuseglio, has time and time again turned his back on our Grand Old Party to endorse Democrats for political office, rather than publicly support upstanding Republican candidates,” Alonso wrote. “In a special City Council election, he endorsed a Democrat from a prominent political family who had the backing of all the major Democrats in the County, including Bayonne’s Mayor.”
Alonso said that, in endorsing Councilman Neil Carroll III in the Nov. 5 special election, instead of John R. Cupo, Cuseglio worked “to the detriment of Republican candidates statewide.”
“I am confident that I speak for the vast majority of Republicans in Bayonne,” Alonso said.
Lost shot at a voting block
In the Nov. 5 Board of Education race, Alonso had a team of Republican allies on the ticket working under the “Make Bayonne Great” slogan: Lauren Michelle Alonso, Evelyn Sabol, and Charles Shepard, who could have formed a voting block aligned with Alonso’s goals.
Cuseglio’s Board of Education endorsement went to the “Together We Can” slate, made up of Democrats Jan Patrick Egan, Lisa Burke, and Melissa Matthews, who were also endorsed by Democratic Mayor Jimmy Davis. Egan and Burke went on to secure spots, while Matthews lost. Incumbent Denis Wilbeck secured the greatest number of votes.
John Cupo, a candidate in the Nov. 5 First Ward Council election, also harangued Cuseglio over his endorsement of incumbent Councilman Neil Carroll.
It’s no secret that Cuseglio and Alonso’s relationship has been icy in the past.
In 2016, Alonso filed a lawsuit alleging that Cuseglio committed election fraud by enlisting people in the Bayonne Republican Committee who were not eligible for the positions they were given. He sought to have the results of the elections annulled, with an order for new elections in all of Bayonne’s districts.
The case was thrown out by Judge Peter Bariso after Alonso failed to appear in court. Cuseglio told reporters at the time that the case was “ridiculous.”
Cuseglio filed a defamation lawsuit against Alonso in 2018.
Cuseglio named Alonso, his “Real Republicans” political group, and two others as defendants. Cuseglio alleged that Alonso produced defamatory content about both him and his business partner, Khaled Aly.
Aly is vice president of a nonprofit group, Bayonne Muslims, which is raising funds to build Bayonne’s first mosque, a project Alonso opposes.
The defamation suit centers around a mock newspaper called the “Bayonne Times,” which Alonso allegedly contributed to, allegedly calling for a boycott of businesses owned by Cuseglio and Aly.
Cuseglio alleged that Alonso publicly accused him of “fraud,” “treason,” and “anti-American” beliefs.
In the “Bayonne Times,” Alonso called for a citywide boycott on businesses owned by Cuseglio and Aly.
Similar rhetoric in County Republican Committee race
Jose Arango, chairman of the Hudson County Republican Committee, caught similar criticism from Joshua Sotomayor Einstein, who recently announced his candidacy to chair the Hudson County Republican Committee. Einstein described the state of the Hudson County Republican Party as “functionally nonexistent,” and argued that a Republican chair should conduct blanket refusals of any Democratic-aligned political candidates, regardless of who the candidates are.
By press time, Vincent Cuseglio could not be reached for comment. This story will be updated with his response.