TOMS RIVER-Republicans across Ocean County are starting to worry about whether or not newly elected GOP Chairman Frank Holman, whose accounting firm receives over $6,000,000 annually from public and politically aligned professional contracts can actually raise the large amount of money needed to win political campaigns in Ocean County this November.
That’s why some are starting their own political action committees outside of the chairman’s purview…and he’s not happy about it.
Holman this week fired off an angry response to a September breakfast fundraiser being held in honor of Ocean County Republican lifetime servant, John Parker. Holman warned his followers not to attend the reception because it was being hosted by a conservative PAC that seeks to help Southern Ocean County Republicans win their elections.
“Despite my specific request as county chairman not to compete with our county’s fundraising efforts, these individuals have chosen to ignore this quest and have created a PAC known as SOC-R PAC,” Holman said as he lashed out to Republican leaders. “I view this effort as a direct attack on the OCGOP.”
It turns out, Holman’s Ocean County GOP enterprise isn’t doing so well raising money this year. Holman risks losing the county seat of Toms River and could fail to win ground in Democrat-controlled Brick Township.
As of July, the Ocean County GOP had just $6,250 in their account after a grueling primary battle that cost Republicans over $100,000 alone in Toms River and a very expensive all-out brawl of a GOP Chairman election earlier this year.
T0 date, the Ocean County GOP has failed to meet any reasonable fundraising goals through their Ocean County Republican Finance Committee PAC, headed by Holman henchmen Jerry Dasti and Jerry Conaty. In fact, the organization’s standard operating expenses such as payroll, meeting space and rent alone nearly ran the account dry in July.
Since then the GOP has raised an additional $50,000 according to reports.
The problem is that to save Toms River from falling to Democrats and to win seats in Brick, Holman is going to need to raise a minimum of $250,000 between now and October to fund those races and a county freeholder race this year.
That’s why some are breaking away from the new regime to raise money on their own.
While Holman lashed out at the Southern Ocean Conservative Republican PAC, he was silent on other PAC’s that have also formed under his nose.
On July 15th, Holman’s Executive Director Thomas Bonfonti and Robert Shea., Jr. formed a new PAC called “Conservatives for a Stronger Ocean County”. This PAC, under the direction of Holman and his finance committee chairman Dasti would allow the party to raise funds to circumvent New Jersey’s Pay to Play laws.
Another PAC is being operated by Jerry Conaty, Holman’s Campaign Finance Treasurer called Shore Republican Finance Committee. Yet another PAC is operated by Dasti’s wife, Elizabeth Dasti named Alliance for Progress.
In Holman’s letter to leadership criticizing the Southern Ocean Conservative Republican PAC, Holman was silent on the PACs operated by his closest advisors and their families.
Holman has made a career living off the legacy of his father, Frank Holman, Jr. who was a political master. The senior Holman and Melvin Cottrell controlled Jackson like a well-oiled machine, both politically savvy experts. Holman, III, chose a career of professional services, amassing millions of dollars annually from that legacy, but now that he is in the driver’s seat, he’s realizing the job of being Ocean County’s Republican Chairman is not as easy as he thought it would be.
His first problem was to reunite the party after a bitter and close chairman election. After the election, to the victor went the spoils. Holman and his henchmen used brute force and intimidation to bring dissenters in line. Now, as the weak and vulnerable who hold public jobs in the county had no choice but to succumb to those threats and play along, those who don’t rely on the party for their livelihood and see the cracks in the armor of the once-powerful Ocean County GOP aren’t putting much faith in Holman’s ability, or inability to truly unite the party and raise the necessary money to defeat Democrats this November.
Weakness is evident in Toms River where mayoral candidate Maurice Hill has tapped into the Orthodox Jewish community’s coffers to raise money and rally support to win his primary. That decision could cost Maurice dearly in November as he continues to cater to that sect of the community, largely ignoring the needs and interests of the general community.
Holman also won his chairmanship on the backs of Lakewood county committee voters. Lakewood’s Republican Committee voted nearly unanimously for Holman, giving him the much-needed push to defeat Toms River Republican Frank Sadeghi.
To win Toms River, Holman is going to need to raise money…and whole lot more than he has already.
Holman, to prove his worth as a county chairman will have to raise around $50,000 each for Brick and Toms River. His own county candidates will need about $100,000, plus he has payroll, rent, banquet hall rentals, marketing, polls, political research and much more to contend with along the way.
While Holman’s henchmen continue their operation of intimidation and fear, Holman now blames his predecessor George Gilmore for his own shortcomings. Holman claims Gilmore is undermining his efforts to be a successful chairman, but many insiders have lodged grievances against Holman’s absenteeism and lack of rapid response since he took power as a detriment to their ability to succeed locally.
Holman, who claimed he was going to retire from his firm, allegedly still works in his office, when he’s not trailblazing the country on hunting expeditions.
2019 is a pivotal year for Republicans in Ocean County. The Blue Wave has consumed Brick and has nearly consumed Toms River. Holman could wake up the day after Election Day finding himself neck-deep in the blue tide if Democrats succeed in winning seats in Toms River.
Or as he said this week at the Toms River GOP monthly meeting, “What kind of chairman would I be if I lose Toms River?”
The next two months will test Holman’s ability to come out from his father’s shadow and prove himself as an effective leader…much of that relies on his ability to raise the necessary money for Republicans who are facing a Democrat Party flush with financial reserves and determination to take home one of the state’s largest political prizes, Toms River. Unlike the past 25 years, this year, the Republicans are going to have to raise their money without the help of former Chairman George Gilmore who was a key fundraiser and political strategist for the party during his tenure.