Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher is facing a right in his bid for re-election to a fourth term.
Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill confirmed that he plans to challenge the 86-year-old Kelaher for the Republican mayoral nomination.
“I’m going to screen, like everybody else does,” said Hill.
Hill said he would only continue his mayoral bid if local Republicans support him for the organization line.
“It would be based on the party support,” he said. “Primaries can be divisive.”
A retired Navy admiral and dentist, Hill sought the Republican nomination for Congress when Rep. Jon Runyan retired in 2014. He dropped out when the Ocean County Republican line went to Tom MacArthur.
The intra-party fight comes as Ocean County Republicans deal with the effects of George Gilmore’s indictment on federal tax evasion charges.
Kelaher was a Gilmore ally who served as county prosecutor before becoming mayor in 2007, although the relationship is not as close as it once was.
The Toms River council had planned on eliminating the job of Kelaher confidante Daniel Mahoney as assistant administrator/personnel director at their meeting tonight, but Hill said the resolution had been pulled back.
Kelaher did not immediately return a 12:06 PM call to his office seeking comment.