TOMS RIVER, NJ – Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill and New Jersey Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, who also serves as consigliere to Hill and officially as the head of the Toms River Department of Law are forming a third political party in Toms River.
Hill and McGuckin, along with their allies, Councilmembers Matt Lotano, Josh Kopp, Kevin Geohegan and Maria Maruca have split with the Toms River traditional Republican Club. Mo Hill formally resigned from the party in 2019 when he decided to run against the club and party in that year’s primary election. To this date, the club never fully welcomed Hill back into its arms after he made a series of comments against the party and a handful of blunders during his first year in office.
Now, after being shunned by the Toms River Republican Club, Hill is forming the “New Toms River Republican Club” and he’s already recruiting his allies as members. Hill and McGuckin have unsuccessfully attempted three coups of the traditional club, each one was sharply rebuked by the club leadership and rank and file members. At one point, McGuckin even demanded that the entire club executive board resigned and handed over the club to himself and Hill.
The club members refused. What is at stake for Hill and McGuckin is their power in Toms River. If the Toms River Republican Club can win 4 seats this November, Hill will become a powerless lame-duck mayor and McGuckin’s no-show job as the township’s attorney could be in jeopardy.
New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin and his political ally, Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill tried three times unsuccessfully to take over the Toms River Regular Republican Club. Now, McGuckin and Hill, who have both fallen out of favor with residents in their town over the past year have announced they are forming a new Republican Club and want to seize control, by force the coveted line in the 2021 Toms River municipal election cycle in which four out of seven members are up for re-election.
Hill and McGuckin want total control of everything in Toms River, its town council, its school board and all of the township’s public finances. Controlling the Toms River Republican Club will allow McGuckin and Hill to control nearly every taxpayer dollar spent in Toms River for the next four years.
It’s why longtime residents and party officials have kept Hill, McGuckin and Ocean County Commissioner Virginia Haines at bay for the past year. Last week, Haines, who was previously running for President of the Toms River Republican Club officially withdrew her candidacy after finding out she was in clear violation of NJ election law.
Now, Haines has jumped on board with Hill and McGuckin. McGuckin, in 2020 in Trenton, introduced a bill that sought to fine New Jersey residents $15,000 for violating New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s executive lockdown orders barring families and groups from gathering.
“Let the games begin!” McGuckin, who was hired this year by Hill as the Toms River Township attorney, a contract worth an estimated $400,000 annually. Since getting the job last spring, McGuckin has yet to attend a single Toms River Township Council meeting, despite being the head of the township’s legal department.
McGuckin, who is also legally barred by New Jersey State Election Law from meddling in political club affairs sent a letter to co-conspirators Frank B. Holman, the Ocean County GOP Chairman and other Republicans in Toms River participating in the latest coup attempt. Holman’s firm receives over $4,000,000 annually in public contracts.
“On behalf of the Republicans for Toms River, please accept the attached petition and submission seeking to be the recognized organization affiliated with the OCGOP,” an attorney for McGuckin, Anne Hammil Pasqua wrote to the Ocean County GOP executive board.
That message was sent to Holman, Vice Chairwoman Barbara Lanuto, Scott Colabella, and Jack Sahradnik. Sahradnick’s law firm also receives millions of dollars annually in public contracts at the Jersey Shore.
“Bring your helmet,” said Jerry Dasti, who many believe is actually the de facto leader of the Ocean County GOP. The letter was sent to special interests and pay to play professional contractors across Ocean County who have financial and political interests in possibly supporting the McGuckin and Hill coup in Toms River.
McGuckin claims the Regular Toms River Republican Club is in violation of its bylaws by not formally supporting and endorsing Toms River Mayor Maurice B. Hill. In 2019, Hill quit the Toms River Club after not being endorsed for Mayor and ran a primary election against the party, winning through new alliances forged around town by the mayor.
The executive board for McGuckin and Hill’s new club, The Republicans for Toms River include Board President Anne Hammill; Sr. Vice President Stephanie Sevastakis, wife of ousted Toms River Councilman John Sevastakis; Treasurer Ginny Rhine, a former Toms River School Board member; Vice President Robert Shea, another pay to play an attorney in town; Joseph Lombardi; Amy McGuckin; Paul DiGregorio and Peter VanDyke.
The club officially became a “Continuing Political Committee” on February 15, 2021. The club met three times prior, it claims on December 16, 2020; January 19, 2021; and February 15, 2021. Over the past three months, the club operated in secrecy with many dual members attending both Toms River Republican Club meetings and the new rebel faction club. Once it was clear that Hill, Haines and McGuckin could not legally seize control of the Toms River Republican Club, they formed their own club.
In September of 2020, Hill and McGuckin attempted to overthrow the club by bringing 50 new members to the meeting, but the meeting ended before the board was able to formally admit those members.