BURLINGTON COUNTY-In most years, the Ocean County GOP and Burlington County GOP have stood together with a united front when it comes to which candidates will run for Congress. In CD-3, all agreed on former pro-football player Jon Runyan representing Burlington County, then both sides agreed to support Tom MacArthur. It wasn’t as cut and dry as that, but in the end, both received support without a lengthy primary battle.
This year, Burlington County has made a power move to capitalize on the chaos that is still settling within the Ocean County GOP political power structure and moved to give their own candidates the line in both districts which cross the borders of Ocean and Monmouth Counties. The move may force Holman to the table behind the Burlington candidates or provoke him into an unnecessary primary election that benefits only Andy Kim.
The Burlington GOP endorsed, Claire Gustafson in the First Congressional District, David Richter in the Second Congressional District and Kate Gibbs in the Third Congressional District.
“The Burlington County Republican Committee has a long history of successfully recruiting and supporting diverse and dynamic candidates for elected office,” said Chairman Sean Earlen. “We’re proud to continue that tradition with Claire Gustafson, David Richter, and Kate Gibbs, who are ready to bring the values and priorities of South Jersey to Washington, and fight back against the do-nothing Democrats in Congress.”
That now leaves Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman, whose hands-off, wait-and-see approach to running the party with a decision to make. Does the Ocean County party rally behind Gibbs and Richter or does Holman force a primary while Andy Kim continues counting his campaign contributions rolling in from across the country.
Holman said in November he would like to see Ocean County candidates in the race, but so far, no candidates have come forward other than John Novak, who ran against the party a few years ago for Freeholder as an independent. Novak lost that election.
Speaking specifically about the Third District, which covers 90% of the county, Earlen said that Kate Gibbs is the exact right candidate for what will be one of the most competitive races in the country.
“Andy Kim went to Washington promising to vote against Nancy Pelosi, and then broke that promise with his first vote. Now he’s toeing the party line again with this baseless impeachment stunt instead of doing the bipartisan work he was elected to do,” said Earlen. “He’s a failure and needs to go.”
“By nominating a millennial woman with a proven record of results like Kate Gibbs, we can start bringing civility and sanity back to our nation’s capital,” continued Earlen. “As a South Jersey native, Kate is no DC insider. From being raised by a single mother and putting herself through college to cutting taxes every year she was in office and creating job opportunities for working families, Kate’s powerful story and broad-based appeal make her the only candidate running who can defeat Andy Kim in 2020.”
Holman, upon taking his seat as chairman promised to bring diversity to the party, which Gibbs offers. Gibbs, if she could defeat Kim could find herself in Congress for a very long time, ending the back and forth power struggle that has been the third district dating back to 1875 when Democrats first lost control. Gibbs would also be the first woman to represent the district.
Now, Republicans are waiting to see whether Holman and his Ocean County regime will fall in behind Burlington County or opt for yet another long, drawn-out intramural battle for Congress. The party has been plagued this year by divisive and contested elections for County Chairman and Toms River mayor. The once strong party has devolved into tribal warfare at the municipal level in the months since Holman took the chair from longtime Chairman George Gilmore. The two, according to sources are not on speaking terms. Holman has yet to rally a united party behind his leadership at the local level.
Holman would not comment on this matter as has been his stance against Shore News Network since taking office this past spring.