The decision of Toms River councilman Dan Rodrick to switch parties came as a surprise to his Republicans, who aren’t quite sure where their onetime opponent fits in.
“We are all still in a state of shock,” said councilman Mo Hill of Dan Rodrick’s announcement last night that he was becoming a Republican. “It’s still settling in. I don’t know how it’s going to be received.”
Hill said that Rodrick told him he just before last night’s council meeting that he had a surprise for his colleagues but would not say what it was.
Rodrick told the New Jersey Globe that he did not discuss his party switch with anyone in advance, including Ocean County GOP chairman George Gilmore. He said his switch was based on ideology.
“The (Democratic) party is moving hard left at the national and state level,” he said. “That’s not in my heart.”
Rodrick said that he would support President Donald Trump for re-election in 2020.
The Republican majority on the council now moves from 4-3 to 5-2, but that doesn’t mean the local GOP is necessarily excited about their new convert.
“There are some ill feelings from the campaign,” said Hill.
After mounting an unsuccessful challenge to Hill and two other Republicans in 2015, Rodrick came back and won the Ward 3 council seat in 2017 when he ousted incumbent Kevin Geohegan by a ten-point margin. Democrats Laurie Huryk and Terrance Turnbach also won ward council seats.
Hill said the Rodrick launched some “unfair attacks” on Republican incumbents, including a claim that the council gave away $52 million to developers.
“It was a flat-out lie,” Hill told the New Jersey Globe. “He never retracted it.
Rodrick said his plan now was to do his job.
“I’m just gong to represent the residents of Toms River on the issues I first ran on and let the chips fall where they may,” said Rodrick, who cited his opposition to over-development and increased multi-family housing. “I’ll work with anyone who shares my views.”