Home>Campaigns>Manchester mayor ousted in huge victory for George Gilmore

Manchester mayoral candidate Robert Arace, center, with council candidates Roxy Conniff and Joe Hankins. (Photo: Arace For Mayor 2022).

Manchester mayor ousted in huge victory for George Gilmore

Robert Arace elected mayor; Roxy Conniff and Joseph Hankins win council seats

By Joey Fox and David Wildstein, December 13 2022 9:31 pm

In a big win for Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore, Robert Arace has ousted incumbent Robert Hudak to become the next mayor of Manchester in a race that pitted two Republicans against each other in what was technically a non-partisan election.

Arace leads Hudak by 362 votes, 5,205 to 4,843 (51.8% to 48.2%.)

Arace’s running mates, Joseph Hankins and Roxanne Conniff, defeated Council President Joan Brush and her running mate, Timothy Poss.   Conniff, the former political director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, is the top vote-getter with 5,092, followed by Hankin at 5,089.  Bush finished third with 5,808, followed  by Poss wth 4,653.

Turnout for the runoff is at 25.6%, not including provisional and late-arriving mail-in ballots.

The runoff – a rematch of a November 2021 special election that Hudak won 57%-43% – was something of a proxy battle between two factions of the Ocean County Republican organization. Arace has the backing of the municipal Republican Party and is aligned with Gilmore, who shockingly regained his perch leading the organization over the summer, while Hudak supported Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy in the race for party chair.

Hudak was appointed mayor in 2021 after Kenneth Palmer resigned to become a Superior Court Judge.

In the November 8 balloting, Hudak led with 44% of the vote, while Arace got 31%; a third candidate, Ken Seda, trailed with 25%. Hudak and Arace are both Republicans and Seda is a Democrat, though the race was officially nonpartisan.

Brush and Poss, also led in the first round. They got 22% and 21% of the vote, respectively, Hankins and Conniff, who is also the GOP municipal chair, each got 16%.

Last week, Seda made a non-endorsement endorsement for the runoff, slamming Hudak’s tenure as mayor and suggesting it was time for a change.  Nothing formal has come from the local Democratic organization.

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