A man who drove the likes of John McCain, Rudy Guiliani, Fred Thompson and former Governor of Massachusetts Jane Swift during the last presidential election should have what it takes to build the Republican Party in Neptune Township. Working to, "move the Neptune Republican Party into a more modern age and find people who are willing to help make that happen," is the current goal of Jim Granelli, who is actively working to increase the Republican profile in his township.
"It was a real honor," said the humble Mr. Granelli, a former Boy Scout who lives by their credo, "leave the place better than you found it. I decided to get involved because I firmly believe you can't complain about a problem until you first do something about it. I am trying to revitalize our organization with younger grass roots-orientated people who are willing to help Neptune Republicans win again. Right now, it is built upon old style politics. There are others in Neptune over the past few years who are just as interested as I am in rebuilding our organization. Politics is something I was always interested in since I read Theodore White's "Making of The President."
Jim, a retired businessman, puts his efforts where his philosophies are. The 35-year resident is married to Laura, a teacher in Wall Township and a member of the Board Of Education in Neptune, a non-partisan position. Their daughter Kara is a sophomore at Neptune High School, excelling in her studies
"It was the proudest moment of my life when I helped Laura and four other well-qualified candidates get elected to help rebuild a Board which had a poor relationship with many of Neptune's residents," Jim said. He serves as a County Republican Committeeman and has served as the Republican Club Secretary for the past year. His term with the club is up shortly. Jim says politics allows him to utilize his career experiences. While he has never held elective office, he doesn't aspire to.
"I have come to the point in my life where I am very happy working to help get well qualified candidates elected," Jim said in December. "I became involved during the 2004 re-election campaign for President Bush. Since then I have worked in various campaigns from the School Board up to Presidential, volunteering at two Republican Conventions. He recently was campaign manager for Warren Lapp in Neptune Township.
We have no Republican on the committee who has relationships with our elected State Assembly people and Senator, or with the Freeholders and the Republican Administration. In today's difficult financial times, one would think it would be important to have a Republican Township Committee person as a "bridge" to those elected Republican officials.
"With a teen age daughter, I have become very worried about the future of our country and decided to help where I can, Jim said." In Neptune Township, he would like to see a Republican join the Township Committee, which has been all Democratic for about five years.
"Neptune Township has been a difficult town for Republicans to win in lately for a lot of reasons," Jim said. "Our Republican organization floundered in its responsibility to continue to build for the future when we were in power. When you have a losing streak, it is difficult to attract candidates and money, as happened this year when we had two seats up for election and only one candidate. I firmly believe that if we had a second candidate, we would have been able to win one of the seats."
"In Neptune, we have a big challenge," Jim continued. "Neptune is approximately 23% Republican, 33% Democrat and the balance are Independent voters. We can only win when we attract Independents and we haven't been doing that well via year 'round outreach to that base of voters. In 2009 for example, we had better candidates, won more districts and the absentee ballots. But all the Democrats had to do is concentrate on a much smaller geographic area called Midtown where they have huge numbers of Democrat voters."
Facing Challenges & the Future
Jim feels that finding ways to help people let go of the past and work with more modern techniques is a primary challenge. There is a need for year 'round party building, combined with recruiting candidates for future elections. He said it's also very difficult to find people to knock on doors and work consistently through the year.
"Constant recruiting and promotion are keys," Jim stated. "I believe in surgically targeting voters that are friendly to Republican ideals, hence Voter Vault is my favorite tool. Door-knocking is Grass Roots Politics 101 and we need to do more of it. Recently, I have tried to expand the scope of our operations beyond just working during the election season, but that takes a lot more people than we have right now. This is one area where we CAN build a bridge with the Tea Party, to find energetic people locally who are willing to help in the trenches. However, in NO way do I believe that Neptune is a lost cause for Republicans." Jim said he believes in many of the goals and ideas of the Tea Party.
"However, I believe in a firm organization with leaders and such is an anathema to the Tea Party. Sometimes I think there are too many people going in too many directions, and many of them are very new to politics. It will take time for the movement to mature, and right now I have my hands full in Neptune."
Currently, there are about 20 steadily active members of the Republican Club and about 15 or so steadily active County Committee members. The group meets monthly and has both dinner meetings with guest speakers; as well as business meetings at locations like the Hamilton First Aid Squad Building. The dinner meetings are the most popular, Jim said, and were instrumental in bringing in new members. He got the idea from attending a Freehold Township Republican Club meeting. New members are welcome to show up and get involved. Prospective members should visit the website for information, www.neptunegop.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org