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Ocean County Primary Highlights: Not All Same-Old, Same-Old

Primary elections ordinarily don’t draw overwhelming waves of voters to the ballot boxes. However, this year we’re electing a governor, state legislators, a pair of freeholders and numerous mayors, and some face intra-party opposition.

Ocean County Administration Building (Tom Mongelli, Townsquare Media)
Ocean County Administration Building (Tom Mongelli, Townsquare Media)

Governor Christie even gets a Republican opponent in Seth Grossman, a 64-year-old lawyer from Atlantic City running under the “Restore Republican Principles” banner.

He positions himself as the alternative to ineffective, cumbersome and clubby politics – much the way Christie characterized himself in his galvanizing win over Jon Corzine.

The difference is that Christie crafted an image of someone whose job as U.S. Attorney provided a road map through the corridors of power in Trenton. Grossman is working shoe leather and piling on miles as the outsider’s outsider.

The presumptive Democratic nominee, state Senator Barbara Buono, is challenged by Troy Webster, a onetime New Jersey Nets draft choice now serving as an aide to East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser.

State Senators Jim Holzapfel (R-10), Sam Thompson (R-12) and Chris Connors (R-9) are unopposed. The Democrats have placed Anthony Mazzella as their District 9 candidate; John Bendel in the 10th; and Raymond Dothard in District 12.

Senator Robert Singer (R-30) faces a challenge from Harold Herskowitz, a Lakewood citizen and frequent critic of the township administration who aims to send his message of reform throughout Singer’s 30th legislative district.

William H. Field is the Democratic choice to challenge either Singer or Herskowitz.

Republican Assembly members Brian Rumpf and DiAnne Gove (R-9), Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (R-10), Ronald Dancer and Rob Clifton (R-12) and Sean Kean and Dave Rible (R-30) face no primary opposition.

The Democrats seeking Assembly seats include Peter Ferwerda and Christopher McManus in District 9; Susan Kane and Amber Gesslein in the 10th; Lawrence Furman and Nicholas Nellegar in District 12; and Lorelei Rouvrais in the 30th.

Ocean County Freeholders John Kelly and James Lacey have no party opposition. The Democrats building their case for a two-party board are Beachwood realtor Patricia Barndt and former Jackson Township Mayor Joseph Grisanti.

County Surrogate Jeff Moran runs unopposed, as does his Democratic challenger Michael Collins of Manahawkin, who chairs the Ocean County Young Democrats Legal Committee.

Toms River PD Chief Mike Mastronardy’s march to the ballots to become Ocean County Sheriff will be required to fend off a challenge from Frank Garnick of Lakewood. Garnick is not in law enforcement, but contends that his purpose is to protect liberty as much as to protect people.

The winner campaigns against Democrat George “Bob” Armstrong, who is in his third attempt to win the post on the strength of more than 40 years in federal, local and military law enforcement.

Toms River Township Council members Maria Maruca, Al Manforti, Jeff Carr and Brian Kubiel face no GOP opponents in their ward races. Kubiel will run in November against former township Mayor and Committeeman Paul Brush, who has organized a Democratic team that includes Linda Stevens, Gary Clifton and Eli Eytan.

Brick Township Council members Joe Sangiovanni and Dan Toth seek the Republican spot on the ballots for the mayoralty being vacated by Steve Acropolis. The exiting Mayor has given his tacit support to Sangiovanni.

Former Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Tom Vogel is on the ballot for a Borough Council run, along with Tom Toohey.

Longtime Berkeley Township Councilwoman Fran Siddons, running without the endorsement of the township’s Republican Club, faces a fight by Board of Ed Vice President Sophia Gingrich. Both have aggressively lobbied for support, house by house.

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