TOMS RIVER-Republicans in Toms River have long adhered to the 11th commandment, an often spoken, unspoken rule that is cherished by many party loyalists. It was created by GOP’s most revered leader in its over 150 year history, President Ronald Reagan. Reagan invented the idea of the 11th commandment during his 1966 campaign for governor of California.
“Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican,” he said.
In recent weeks, that commandment has been shattered and is now scattered in broken pieces across the township’s bayfront and oceanfront properties as the hotly contested ward 1 Republican primary election has turned into a knock ’em dead, mudslinging bloodbath.
In what is being described as a hit piece, issued by Toms River’s establishment Republican Club against Lavallette police officer Justin Lamb, elected Councilman George Wittmann is the latest in a line of party Republicans coming out against Lamb.
Wittmann said Lamb was unqualified to be a councilman over a 2015 dispute he had with a Toms River Police Officer over a noise complaint at an Ortley Beach residence where Lamb was in attendance.
According to a police report, also released by the Toms River Republican Club, Lamb had a disagreement with a Toms River officer, however no complaints or charges were ever filed and the matter was never revisited.
Lamb said the incident was a non-issue and just another attack in a barrage of negative campaigning against him by the Republican establishment to keep him from getting the party’s nomination.
“This release by my opponents, just the latest in a long line of mud-slinging and dirty campaigning, was not a surprise. I spoke out against the deficit in their carefully crafted budget, and they scrambled to amend the budget and close the gap,” Lamb said. “I spoke out against the extravagant and opulent firehouse proposal, another backdoor tax increase, and in an historic voter turnout – and a very lopsided vote – our community shut those plans down. It appears that I carry the voice of the people, the township council follows my lead, and my opponents have no real ideas of their own.”
After that vote, establishment Republicans called the residents of Toms River anarchists for voting against the lavish $14 million facility and blamed Lamb for influencing the vote.
Lamb added that since he started campaigning on local issues, the Toms River Republican Club has been relying on personal attacks and mudslinging. Lamb also questioned the club’s use of what he described as party attack dogs, while his opponent, Maria Maruca has remained mostly silent during the campaign.
“With less than three weeks to the primary election, the GOP establishment is running out of time to derail my campaign with dirty politics,” Lamb added. “My opponent remains bizarrely silent during this campaign, and I’m still not sure that she has a plan. Her attack dogs keep barking insults, but we will continue to rise above it. They want to keep their status quo, but I want reform. I want us to do better.”
“I will continue to stay on-message and to fight for the issues that matter in our community. I will continue to discuss plans to curtail unnecessary spending, decrease property taxes, and fight an overwhelming heroin epidemic in my neighborhood of Gilford Park,” Lamb said. “While the establishment strives to keep Ward 1 stuck jogging in place, I will continue to work on ways to move forward for a better Toms River.”
The 11th commandment, issued by Reagan is important during political primaries, because the former President felt if Republicans attacked each other during their primary elections, those attacks would be used against them during the general election against their Democrat opponents.
In March, during a gubernatorial showcase hosted by the Ocean County Republicans, Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore reminded those candidates of the 11th commandment before they spoke to the audience and those involved in the current mudsling were all in attendance.