The Toms River Republican Club endorsed former Ocean County prosecutor Joseph Coronato for mayor tonight.
Coronato defeated four-term councilman Maurice (Mo) Hill by just 8 votes, 43-35, to secure the organization line in the June primary.
The vote of the full club came after Coronato won a closed-door screening committee endorsement against Hill by a 10-9 vote.
Coronato was the choice of Ocean County Republican chairman George Gilmore, who still has the clout to influence the insider votes. Gilmore’s trial on federal tax evasion charges is scheduled to next week, and a verdict would likely be rendered long before the June 4 primary.
Councilman Dan Rodrick announced this week that he would challenge Coronato in the primary.
It is not immediately known whether Hill will also continue his bid for mayor. The filing deadline is April 1.
Democrats have endorsed attorney Jonathan Petro, the president of the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce, for mayor.
Three-term Republican mayor Thomas Kelaher, 86, is not seeking re-election.