Home>Campaigns>Ocean GOP votes to keep current Toms River club, boosting McGuckin

The 2023 Ocean County GOP convention. (Photo: Joey Fox for the New Jersey Globe).

Ocean GOP votes to keep current Toms River club, boosting McGuckin

Vote represents another defeat for Gilmore-aligned club that fell two years ago

By Joey Fox, March 08 2023 7:12 pm

At their county convention this evening, Ocean County Republicans narrowly voted to keep the current Toms River GOP club and reject attempts by a rival club to take its place, boosting Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Toms River)’s chances of getting the county organizational line for re-election.

The current club, Republicans for Toms River, is aligned with McGuckin and Toms River Mayor Mo Hill, while the defeated Toms River Regular Republican Club is allied with Ocean GOP Chairman George Gilmore. The vote was 116 votes in favor of Republicans for Toms River versus 109 votes for the Regular Republican Club. 

Later this evening, convention attendees from the 10th legislative district (which includes Toms River, Brick, and 14 smaller towns) will vote on whether to award the county line to McGuckin or dump him.

Three other candidates are running for the Assembly in the 10th district: Toms River school board member Ashley Lamb and former Brick Councilwoman Ruthanne Scaturro – who have the backing of the Ocean GOP screening committee – as well as Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra. The district’s other sitting assemblymember, Assemblyman John Catalano (R-Brick), is retiring to run for mayor of Brick.

Until two years ago, the Regular Republican Club was Toms River’s official Republican organization, a role it had held for decades, including under Gilmore’s first reign as party chairman. But after Frank Holman took over the party in 2019 following Gilmore’s resignation, the Holman-aligned Republicans for Toms River won a competitive 2021 fight to become the new official club.

Gilmore is now back as party chairman after winning an unexpected victory last summer over County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, prompting the rematch of the dueling clubs. (Not coincidentally, Mastronardy is a member of Republicans for Toms River.)

McGuckin is likely to be the most immediate beneficiary of the club’s recertification. Lamb, his rival for the Assembly, is a member of the Regular Republican Club, and her campaign for the county line probably depended on a Regular Club victory.

But Hill, who is up for re-election this year, will also benefit from the club election results. Former Regular Club president Geri Ambrosio, a Gilmore ally, has the club’s endorsement for mayor, and she likely would have been favored for the organizational line if Republicans for Toms River had lost.

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