Ocean County leaders seek to build unity on back of Reina victory, condemn tactics of division

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Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina speaks before supporters alongside Councilwoman-elect Jennifer Kuhn and Councilman-elect Scott Sargent.
Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina speaks before supporters alongside Councilwoman-elect Jennifer Kuhn and Councilman-elect Scott Sargent.

LAKEWOOD, NJ – State, county, and local Republican leaders gathered together Tuesday night to celebrate the victory of Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina and his running mates Jennifer Kuhn and Scott Sargent.

Reina defeated his opponent Martin Flemming after a contentious election that at times bordered on anti-semitism as Flemming and his team accused Reina of ‘selling out’ Jackson due to his message of unity between residents in Jackson.

On Tuesday, the message of unity was front and center, not only between the town’s growing population of Orthodox Jews and non-Jews but between fractured political factions within the county.

Former Jackson Councilman Alex Sauickie, now a state assemblyman, poses with Ocean County Commissioners Gary Quinn and Jack Kelly. GOP lawyer Jerry Dasti is pictured second from right.

New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer condemned the campaign messaging by Flemming’s team, saying it portrayed Jewish people as being unwanted and undesirable, stating that the Orthodox community in Jackson and Lakewood’s community contributions, generosity, and warmth are often overlooked.

Singer said Reina won because he used the strategy of unity instead of division among residents of Jackson.

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Jack Ciattarelli, the presumed Republican nominee for Governor in 2025, congratulated Reina on both his victory and his campaign messaging. Cittarelli will also have to start unifying a fractured GOP in New Jersey if he is to defeat his Democrat challenger in the next election. Many conservative Republicans simply stayed home in 2021 due to Ciattarelli’s negative comments about former President Donald J. Trump.

Also in attendance at the event was New Jersey Assemblyman Alex Sauickie, who made a large last-minute campaign donation to Reina’s opponent but, on Tuesday, sought to ‘move Jackson forward’, Reina’s campaign slogan during the election.

Ocean County commissioners Bobi Joe Crea, Jack Kelly, and Gary Quinn attended in support of Reina’s victory. Reina said he hopes his victory will signal an end to the division in Ocean County Republican circles that persisted under the leadership of former Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman. Under Holman, the Ocean County Republican Party was fractured and divided.

2021 GOP candidate for governor Jack Ciattarelli poses with newly elected councilwoman Jennifer Kuhn and newly elected councilman Scott Sargent.

“Good things are happening in and around Jackson,” Reina said, shrugging off criticisms by his opponents for offering a path forward in Jackson for all residents who call the 100 square mile town home.

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Speakers sharply criticized Flemming’s dividing messages during the campaign that sought to paint Reina as being ‘bought out’ or ‘sold out’ to Orthodox Jews.

All of the speakers condemned Flemming’s campaign messaging as being divisive.

Unity was the message of the day where even two GOP leaders who brutally battled each other this year sat together.

At one table, Sheriff Michael Mastronardy sat shoulder to shoulder with Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore. The two sparred in a no-holds-barred election against each other for the chairman’s seat this past spring.

Reina’s victory was also a defeat for GOP political consultant Chris Russell who has had a longtime losing streak in contentious elections in the Republican stronghold of Ocean County.

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Reina said he looks forward to continuing his job serving the people of Jackson and thanked his friends, family, and the voters for his victory. Outgoing Jackson Republican Club President Todd Porter, who guided Flemming’s campaign messaging, did not attend. Jackson Republican Municipal Chairwoman Clara Glory also skipped the celebration. Glory made a personal loan to Flemming’s campaign in the late hours and unsuccessfully tried to raise money to pay off the campaign’s growing debt balance.