Ocean GOP chairman George Gilmore released a statement today excoriating Toms River Mayor Mo Hill for his allegedly antisemitic rhetoric – even though Hill has the endorsement of the Ocean County Republican organization led by Gilmore.
According to Gilmore, both Hill and Toms River Councilman Dan Rodrick, two of the four candidates running for mayor in next month’s Republican primary, engaged in antisemitic campaign tactics when they warned of Orthodox Jewish encroachment into Toms River.
“The actions by Mo Hill and Dan Rodrick are disgraceful and have no place in our party,” Gilmore said. “We have seen this before when others have tried to divide the residents of our county using the same hateful rhetoric… I am calling on every Republican – commissioners, legislators and local leaders alike – to join me in condemning this abhorrent behavior.”
Earlier this month, Hill issued a press release “congratulating” another mayoral opponent, Geri Ambrosio, for receiving the endorsement of the Toms River Jewish Community Council, a local Orthodox Jewish group. The congratulations were a fairly obvious attempt to link Ambrosio to Orthodox Jewish development and population growth, a major issue in Ocean County towns abutting the Orthodox heartland of Lakewood.
Rodrick, meanwhile, took a somewhat subtler tack, saying in a campaign mailer that he would fight against “Lakewood-style development” if elected mayor.
Both actions, according to the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America, amounted to “divisive and hateful language” that was unacceptable in an era of rising antisemitism.
“At a time when antisemitism in New Jersey is at a record high, civic leaders carry the responsibility to counter hate and antisemitism, not promote it,” the organization said in a statement. “We call upon civic leaders throughout the state to denounce this rhetoric and to demand an apology from those who have engaged in this divisive activity.”
It’s highly unusual for a party chair to openly slam a candidate endorsed by their own party organization. But Gilmore and Hill are longtime political enemies, while Ambrosio is a close Gilmore ally who has run previous off-the-line campaigns with his support.