A move to change the Ocean County Democratic by-laws to allow vote-by-mail for county committee members was rejected on Thursday, but that was good news for the county chairman, Wyatt Earp.
The proposal received 82 votes in favor and 49 in opposition, 62.6%-37.4%, but Democrats needed a two-thirds vote to change the party rules and the measure was six votes short of passage.
But the vote could be viewed as a proxy fight between Earp and his challenger in the June race for Democratic county chairman, former Toms River Councilman Terrance Turnbach. Earp had supported the VBM plan, while Turnbach forces opposed it.
Tonight’s vote could represent an early poll between Earp and Turnbach.
Earp announced early this month that Emma Mammano, a former State Senate candidate from Brick, will be his running mate when the county committee reorganizes after the June Democratic primary.
Turnbach announced his run on March 8. Lacey Democratic Municipal Chair Tara Kownacki will run for vice chair on Turnbach’s ticket.
The president of the Ocean and Monmouth AFL-CIO, Earp has been the county chairman for sixteen years.