TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman had all of the exits to the ballroom at the Days Inn on Route 37 secured by Toms River Police officers after it was announced that the public and media would be barred from the annual event which historically had been open to the public and the media.
The predetermined slate of candidates, Virginia Haines and Jack Kelly for County Commissioner and Sheriff Michael Mastronardy for Sheriff was formalized in the closed-door session.
In a surprising twist, Toms River School Board member Ashley Lamb, who is challenging the elder Haines received 37 votes from the floor in the convention. Mastronardy and Kelly did not face opposition.
The delegation of voters, who include pay to play professional contract holders, county and municipal employees with patronage jobs, mayors (with and without public jobs) and municipal committee chairs also chose Chris Smith to run for CD-4, in opposition of former President Donald J. Trump.
Trump has harshly criticized Smith after the New Jersey Republican voted in line with Democrats for the Biden/Pelosi infrastructure bill.
Haines, who was propelled into her seat in 2016 during a back-office deal brokered in the office of former Ocean County Chairman Joe Buckalew won her first election in 2019. This year, Haines may be challenged in a primary by Lamb, but that is uncertain at this point. Haines could face a tough primary loss if that happens.
Haines, who also serves has the RNC state chairwoman for New Jersey has been seen by many in the county as the “Divider in Chief” of the Ocean County Republican Party. Last week, Haines secretly announced that she would be firing longtime Ocean County Business Administrator Carl Block due to simply to his historical allegiance to former Ocean County Chairman George Gilmore.
On Wednesday, the organization announced it would be banning the media from attending the event and in order to keep the media out, three Toms River police officers were stationed at doors leading into the hotel and ballroom conference areas.
The organization blamed an email from Shore News Network expressing our opinions about the lockout, calling the organization a “piece of sh-t” for squelching freedom of speech and the organization leaders, “sh-t birds”.
The Ocean County GOP has become an organization that operates similar to the mafia in recent years, using strong-armed tactics against competitors, terminating the employment of dissenters, and funneling millions of dollars of taxpayer funds annually into the bank accounts of the party’s leadership.
It is not sure if the Ocean County GOP paid the officers for their extra duty or if the township provided the services to the political organization.