U.S. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney may be coming to the area on Wednesday, but life in downtown Bernardsville is expected to go on pretty much as usual, even for those who might have liked a chance to meet the candidate most likely to be nominated as the Republican party's choice for president.
Romney is invited, and expected to attend, a $5,000-a-plate political fundraiser hosted at the home of Bernardsville attorney Ed Deutsch, a partner in the law firm of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carptenter. The fundraiser actually is billed as supporting the campaign of N.J. Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), who hopes to unseat U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.
"I don't have that kind of money," said Somerset County Freeholder Peter Palmer, also a Republican and a longtime participant in politics in Somerset County and Bernardsville. "If someone wants to give me a ticket, I would go," he added.
Palmer said the Republican County Organization is busy raising campaign funds for GOP candidates within Somerset County.
"But that's several levels of fundraising above what we do."
Romney's arrival in town for an event that a staff member at Deutsch's office said is due to begin at 3:30 p.m. is anticipated to be a quiet one.
Police chief says not much traffic expected with Romney's arrival
"We don't expect a lot of traffic," Bernardsville Borough Police Chief Kevin Valentine said Monday afternoon.
"I am not really worried. ... I don't expect its going to have any impact on day to day business in town," Valentine said.
The chief added he could not discuss security precautions and any other arrangements being made with the Romney team.
Some business owners in Bernardsville also weren't expecting to see much of Romney.
Sharon Markowitz, a Basking Ridge resident who owns The Rebecca Collection on the corner of Olcott Square in Bernardsville, said she agrees Romney's arrival will not have much impact on the downtown.
"I think it's going to be as low-key as they can make it," she said of the organizers of the event.
Markowitz, who's not purchased a ticket to attend, said it would be nice if Romney, a businessman always talking about business, stopped by to talk to local merchants.
That might surprise some people. Rich Steinberg, owner of the Bernardsville Print Center, said Monday afternoon he had been unaware that Romney was coming.
"Wow," he noted.
Another employee, at Mastro Shoes, across the street on Mine Brook Road, said he also hadn't heard about Romney's planned visit.
But the news wasn't going to send Steinberg to book a place at the table for the fundraiser.
"I don't have pocket change like that," he said. He observed that Romney's financial worth is much more than his.
Even so, he said he would support Romney as a choice over "our current president."
Bernards Township Committeeman John Carpenter seconded that motion.
"I would love to go, but I don't have $5,000 lying around," said Carpenter, a Republican who is handling the campaign of two other GOP candidates for Township Committee, John Malay and Deputy Mayor Carolyn Gaziano.
He said he would expect Romney will do fundraising for his own campaign while in the Somerset Hills—"or he's not smart enough to be president," he said.
Carpenter added he has faith in the primary system that has worked through the roster of Republican candidates.
"We will end up with a nominee we can get behind to beat Barack Obama," Carpenter said.
Those who wish to attend the fundraiser, should call Maria Chappa at 973-239-3024.