TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ocean County Commissioners Jack Kelly and Virginia Haines have been challenged by their opponents Ashley Lamb and Sergio Fossa to participate in a public debate ahead of the June Republican primary election.
Lamb and Fossa represent the Trump-aligned America First slate. Today, the candidates announced Trump confidante and retired U.S. General Michael Flynn has officially endorsed their slate. On the other side, Kelly and Haines represent the establishment Ocean County Republican Party, which has been the focus of an FBI probe and a recent arrest of one of its own, former Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy.
In June, the America First team gained the coveted A column on election ballots in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
“In the coming years, Ocean County must confront HUGE issues and the people deserve to know where their County Commissioners stand,” Lamb said. “The proposed homeless shelter, the $100 million expansion of the court building, the county’s dominion voting machines — these are big issues the voters need to know about.”
Lamb, in a press release today said that Ginny Haines in particular must also account for her support of Liz Cheney at the recent meeting of the Republican National Committee.
This week, Republican voters in Ocean County received robo-texts from the America First team criticizing Haines for her open support of abortion until birth and her close relationship with Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy who often serves as Haines’ personal driver, according to the texts.
The campaign message alleged Mastronardy used his county vehicle, fueled with county-paid gasoline to shuttle himself and Haines to and from political events across Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
After receiving those texts, Shore News Network was provided with Mastronardy’s E-ZPass and fuel logs that showed the Sheriff refueled his county vehicle 23 times between January first and May 3rd, logging over 5,000 miles.
E-ZPass records show Mastronardy regularly travels between Barnegat and Toms River on the Garden State Parkway with trips across the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, Newark and a Delaware River crossing during the same period.
Passenger logs were not provided to verify the claim by the America First team. Mastronardy did not respond for comment when asked about the claim.
“Mastornardy is the world’s most expensive Uber driver,” the campaign jabbed at Haines’ running mate. Mastronardy is running unopposed in June. They also question Haines’ loyalty and support for Liz Cheney, an outsider in conservative Republican politics.
“Why did Ginny Haines defend Liz Cheney and oppose President Trump when Cheney has willingly joined Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff in the political persecution of Americans rightfully protesting the stolen 2020 election,” Lamb asked?
The pair also criticized the commissioners’ vote to approve million dollar purchase of controversial Dominion voting machines.
“Fossa agreed adding that politicians like Haines and Kelly who have been in office so long should have no fear of presenting their views and defending their records,” the press release continued.
“Why did Ginny and Jack allow Dominion voting machines in Ocean County? What is being done to replace them? And what plans are in place to ensure the security of the ballot drop boxes,” Fossa asked? “Better yet, why aren’t we eliminating the dropboxes entirely… election day should be on election day — Period!”
Lamb and Fossa are the latest of the America First Republicans to agree to debate their regular Republican opponents. America First Republican Mike Crispi and Regular Republican Chris Smith have been invited to debate by the League of Women Voters and NJ 101.5, but Smith has ignored both requests.
Moreover, in Monmouth County, the League of Women Voters invited candidates for Sheriff and Commissioner to debate, but the Regular Republicans led by Sheriff and County Chairman Shaun Golden have also ignored the League.
Shore News Network reached out to Pat Lane, executive director of the Ocean County GOP for a response to the debate challenge, but did not receive and immediate response.