LAKEWOOD, NJ – Republican party infighting in Ocean County might eventually benefit Lakewood Township as factions warfare in the party has moved from the back room to the board room. It all started when the new leadership team under GOP Chairman Frank Holman, including loyalists Freeholder Virginia Haines, Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin, Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill and Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina forged an alliance against former George Gilmore loyalists in central and southern Ocean County.
Despite a movement that has begun that calls for the recall of Haines, open warfare between the two factions has led to a call for change in county government. As it stands now, the five-member board is elected at-large across Ocean County, which resulted in overrepresentation from Toms River, which controls the majority of seats on the board.
Under a new proposal being discussed, when the board moves from Freeholders to a commissioner based board, there will be 7 seats, instead of 5, with three seats being at-large seats and the county being cut into four new districts based on the 2020 census results.
Those districts would ensure representation on the new Ocean County Board of Commissioners for Lakewood Township.
The changes are a bi-product of a civil war brewing within the Ocean County GOP, sparked by the hostile and aggressive stance the party leadership has taken against those who disagree with their authoritative rule. Under that authoritative rule, the law firm of McGuckin, Dasti, Murphy, have landed huge political contracts in Toms River, Lacey, Jackson and Manchester. Rifts in the party became evident after the rank and file Republican leaders overthrew Holman’s screening committee’s recommendation to nominate Kate Gibbs for Congress and Rik Mehta for Senate. The party overturned the leadership team’s nominations which led to a huge voter turnout in Ocean County for Singh and Richter, a referendum by the party against Holman’s weak leadership since taking control of the party.
Holman’s regime has been losing political battles, despite winning key financial battles across the county. The Holman-McGuckin-Haines regime unsuccessfully launched a coup, led by McGuckin and Toms River Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill against the Toms River Republican Club. They also nearly lost a key mayoral election in Toms River against Democrats last November.