Two Republican assemblymen with targets on their backs have announced their plans to seek re-election to their Jersey shore seats, setting up a possible test of their own local organizational strength against the GOP county chairman, George Gilmore.
Greg McGuckin (R-Toms River) and John Catalano (R-Brick) have no announced opponents for the GOP line, but it’s no secret that Gilmore would prefer a change.
Possible candidates include: former Toms River Republican Club President Geri Ambrosio, Tom River Councilman Justin Lamb, former Brick Councilwoman and Ocean GOP Vice Chair Ruthanne Scaturro, Cathy Lindenbaum, the former state president of the New Jersey PTA and a former Brick school board member.
Longtime State Sen. James Holzapfel (R-Toms River) issued a joint announcement release with McGuckin and Catalano, but he’s done a good enough job straddling the line between Gilmore and the faction he defeated in his comeback bid last July to avoid a primary fight.
McGuckin and Catalano have a clear path to winning the Ocean GOP convention, unless Gilmore is successful at taking over the Toms River Republican Club that flipped during the time he was out of office.
Ambrosio challenged McGuckin and Catalano in the 2021 Republican primary, but lost by 3,787 votes in her off-the-line bid.
In the meantime, McGuckin and Catalano are sticking to state issues as they launch their re-election bids.
“There are a growing number of Republicans in our area who are outraged by the liberal agenda being forced upon our citizens by the Murphy Administration and Trenton Democrats,” said McGuckin. “I want our residents to understand that I will continue to stand up against those who want to take away our constitutional rights, increase taxes and manipulate public school funding. Your voices, beliefs and values will not be silenced.”
McGuckin, the Toms River law director, won the State Assembly seat left open when Holzapfel moved up to the Senate in 2011. Catalano was elected to the Assembly in 2019 following the retirement of David Wolfe (R-Brick) after 28 years in the lower house.
“As a small business owner, I am eager to represent the shop owners, businessmen and women who are the backbone of our local economy,” said Catalano. “The Jersey Shore is an incredible place to work and live and I am honored to have the continued support from both our new and existing residents.”
The new map approved during legislative redistricting last year added five Republican towns in southern Monmouth County to the 10th district. Holzapfel, McGuckin and Catalano are favored to win the Monmouth GOP convention to run on their line.