Walsh won’t say if he’s running for freeholder
It’s been almost two months since Howell Councilman Bob Walsh told us he would challenge Republican freeholder incumbents, Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich, at the upcoming Monmouth Republican Nominating Convention. In our early December interview, which Walsh claimed he thought was off the record after publication, he said he would be sending a letter to member of the Monmouth County Republican Committee shortly after the first of the year.
Now, at the end of January, there’s been no letter, and Walsh wouldn’t say if he’s running when we called him late last week. “I’m busy at work and have a few things to take care of; go to the doctor for my annual check up. Then I’ll decide,” Walsh said.
But Walsh was overheard at a Howell Republican Club meeting last week saying he was going to run and he was seen working the crowd at Sheriff’s Shaun Golden’s Winter Breakout fundraiser on Friday.
One Republican insider who requested not to be named said Walsh is running. “He’s all in and its going to be a shit show,” the committee member said, ” he’s calling the municipal chairmen.”
Manalapan GOP Chairman Steve McEnery said he hasn’t heard from Walsh. “He hasn’t called me,” McEnery said, “so I really don’t know what he’s going to do, but I don’t think we need a convention fight for freeholder nominations.”
Another chairperson said Walsh is probably gauging his level of support before committing. “A lot of people rallied around Lillian and Gary as a result of your article in December,” the chair said, “they both (Burry and Rich) have issues, but nothing that disqualifies them. Why should we have a fight just because Bob Walsh wants to be a freeholder?”
Burry, who said Walsh “should wait his turn” in December, laughed when told that he in now equivocating. “One day he’s running, the next day he’s not. You’ll have to ask him,” Burry said, “I’m running. I already have more than enough signatures on my petitions and I’m still collecting.”
Burry also noted that Judge Lawrence M. Lawson ruled in the County’s favor in a lawsuit brought by 2013 Democratic freeholder candidate Lawrence Luttrell, wherein Luttrell claimed the freeholder had a conflict of interest when she voted to fund the development rights to Andrew Lucas’s Burke Farm. Lawson ruled that Burry did not have a conflict of interest.
“I’m running with Lillian and we’re running as a team,” Rich said, “That’s really Bob’s decision,” whether to mount a challenge or not. Rich has sent a letter to committee members and has started fund raising.
Whatever Walsh decides to do, he’ll have to commit soon. The annual GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, the traditional start of petition gathering and nominating campaigns, is on Monday, February 17. The convention is on March 22.