Republicans in Point Pleasant Beach are rearing to jump at each other’s throats after Mayor Stephen Reid announced he would run for reelection instead of seeking the Assemblyman David Wolfe’s seat.
Councilman Paul Kanitra, who had previously said he would only seek the town’s mayoral seat if Reid got the Republican nod for Wolfe’s seat, is staying in the race, and he’s claiming Reid threatened his career and life over the matter.
“The events of the past few weeks have forced me to act,” Kanitra said. “As many of you know, the Mayor personally and viciously threatened my career and life in a series of explicit text messages after my announcement. I was told ‘I will do everything in my power to make sure you will not only lose but we’ll make sure your political career is over’ and ‘I’m going to make a statement and F’ing ruin you for good.’ Now, what you may not know is that this was not an isolated incident.”
Reid denies having threatened Kanitra, saying the latter quoted him out of context.
“I never really did. That’s old news. It’s something that he took a text, a part of a text, not the whole text, sent it to the reporters about two weeks ago, two or three weeks ago, but that’s just typical Paul,” Reid said. “I’m not worried about that. That’s just Paul.”
But those charges aren’t the only ones Kanitra has leveled against the mayor, who said he had not seen the Facebook video in which Kanitra attacks his electoral opponent.
Kanitra claims that Reid threatened his reelection on more than one occasion when the councilman moved out of step with Reid’s policies. He also claimed the mayor was seeking reelection as a “consolation prize” after the Ocean County Republican screening committee recommended Brick Council President John Catalano for Wolfe’s seat.
Republicans hold huge majorities in Point Pleasant Beach, but their victories at a local level are typically eked out by a margin of roughly 100 votes.
“In the last election, our local candidates received 200-400 less votes than our U.S. Senatorial, U.S. Congressional and County Freeholder candidates received in Point Pleasant Beach. That means that hundreds of Republicans went right down the ballot selecting Republican candidates and then changed their mind and voted for Democrats when it came to our local race,” Kanitra said. “It’s a major indicator of a Mayor that is total out of touch and focused on aspirations for higher office more than looking out for our residents here at home.”
The prospect of two Republicans at one another’s throats might not bode well for what should be a safe general election.
But Reid said he isn’t worried about that. Still, he didn’t much want to discuss the issue.
“Paul can say and do whatever he wants,” Reid said. “Paul’s been planning this for quite a long time. He’s only been a councilman for a year, and I know he’s been wanting to be a mayor for a long time, so a lot of this stuff is made up in his own head, but that’s fine. That’s Paul.”