Five candidates are seeking the support of the Ocean County Republican organization for county commissioner, including incumbents Jack Kelly and Virginia Haines.
Jackson Councilman Andrew Kern, Toms River school board member Ashley Lamb, and former Brick Councilman Michael Thulen, Sr. filed letters of intent to participate in the February 10 screening committee process and March 10 GOP county convention. The filing deadline was January 14.
This is Thulen’s second bid for a county commissioner seat. He mounted an off-the-line bid in 2021 against incumbent Gary Quinn and former Little Egg Harbor Mayor Bobbi Jo Crea but received just 4,999 votes – 27,005 behind Crea.
Kelly was first elected in 1992 and Haines was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2016.
Sheriff Michael Mastronardy faces no opposition for the organization line. Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman III announced last week that he would not seek re-election and was backing Mastronardy as his successor.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) is also unopposed for the Ocean Republican organization line in New Jersey’s 2nd district. U.S. Army veteran John Barker and U.S. Air Force veteran Scott Hitchner, Jr., who have announced primary challenges against Van Drew, did not file to compete for the Ocean line.
In the 4th district, two of the five Republicans taking on 21-term Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) in the primary election have asked to be considered for the organization line: conservative podcaster Mike Crispi and U.S. Army veteran Mike Blasi. Three others are not seeking the endorsement of the Ocean GOP: attorney David Burg, Englishtown councilman Daniel Francisco, and perennial candidate Tricia Flanagan.