Monmouth GOP has its pants on the ground
Their nominating convention is not until March 22 at the IBEW Local 400 union hall in Wall Township, but Monmouth County Democratic freeholder candidates Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo are off and running full speed ahead.
Luttrell, the Holmdel attorney who came in last against Freeholders Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso, as well as his running mate Brian Froelich, after being endorsed by the Asbury Park Press last year, announced he was running again almost immediately after his sad showing.
Grillo is the former Executive Director of the Monmouth Democrats and the municipal chairman of the Asbury Park Democrats. Like Luttrell, he has never held elected office. Grillo was briefly a candidate for the Asbury Park City Council last year, withdrawing from the race prior to the filing deadline. Since leaving his position as ED of the Monmouth Dems, Grillo has worked for his family’s tile company in Howell.
Grillo stepped up his game over the weekend with a fundraising email blast that announced his candidacy. He raised $6,200 online through Sunday. A Democrat who does not want to be known for talking to a Republican leaning site told MMM that Grillo has raised over $20,000 for his campaign including checks collected offline. His stated goal is to raise $50,000 by the June 3rd primary.
If Grillo’s email is an indication, the Monmouth Dems still do not have any ideas on how to improve county government. They plan to run yet another mudslinging campaign this year. Like last year when she wasn’t on the ballot, Freeholder Director Lillian Burry is their target. Former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas and former Brookdale President Peter Burnham are their excuse.
I am working hard to spread the word to Monmouth County voters about my plan to make this county a better place to live, work and raise a family. This isn’t just lip service – I’ve run small businesses and I’ve advocated for my community in Asbury Park.
My opponent? The incumbent political machine of Monmouth County, led by career politician Lillian Burry.Under Lillian Burry’s direction, the freeholder board rubber-stamped a shady land deal for a political contributor, Andrew Lucas, which led to an 11 count federal indictment including Fraud and Obstruction of a Grand Jury Investigation.Under Lillian Burry’s oversight, Brookdale Community College’s former president was found guilty of embezzling public funds. All of this comes at the expense of Monmouth County taxpayers.It is time to bring an end to the scandals and restore the trust. It is time for fresh ideas and ethical leadership.I am confident we can win in November. But I’m going to need your help.I’m setting an ambitious goal of raising $50,000 in total donations by the June 3rd Democratic Primary. Can I count on your support?Mike, will you pitch in $50, $100, $250 or whatever you can to help us build the grassroots foundation we’ll need to take on the Monmouth political machine and win in Monmouth County?
The Monmouth Dems have been running against the Lucas farm for the last four election cycles with no success. Luttrell’s lawsuit to overturn the Lucas deal was thrown out of court by Judge Lawrence M. Lawson. Yet the Dems have nothing else and are emboldened by Lucas’s indictment on charges related to his purchase of Burke Farm. There are no charges related to the government’s acquisition of the development rights for the farm.
Despite the fact that they have nothing new to offer, the Dems have a shot of picking up a seat or two on the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders this year because the state and county GOP organizations are both in disarray.
The NJ GOP is a subsidiary of Christie Inc. The state party is all about Governor Christie and his ambitions with no interest in picking up or protecting Republican seats on any level throughout the state. Their failure to recruit a top tier or well funded candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Cory Booker is only the most blatant example of their indifference to winning in New Jersey.
The Monmouth GOP is rudderless. Chairman John Bennett’s employment…two full time jobs in Oceanport during the day and part-time legal work scattered throughout Monmouth municipalities at night…are preventing him from doing political work and providing needed leadership. While there is no apparent challenge to Bennett’s chairmanship on the horizon for his June reelection, there is a movement afoot to amend his nominating process that has resulted in a three way race for two incumbent freeholder seats at the coming convention.
Regardless of who the Monmouth GOP nominates for freeholder on March 22, Freeholder Director Lillian Burry, Deputy Director Gary Rich and/or Howell Councilman Bob Walsh, the party might face a tea party backed primary challenge. The party is not prepared for a primary. If the Bayshore Tea Party Group runs a slate in the primary, the Monmouth GOP will have to hurriedly pick their collective pants up.
Additionally, Bennett, whose career as a Senator was destroyed by The Asbury Park Press, is back on the APP’s radar. In an article about cronyism in the Christie Administration , the APP singled out the former Senate President for his earnings 12-22 years ago.
On the Republican side, former state Sen. and acting Gov. John O. Bennett III of Monmouth County took in $1.9 million in salary over 10 years from the state, seven municipalities and one school board for legal work through 2002. Bennett is now chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Organization.
Bennett’s inclusion in the article is curious because he is not a Christie crony and because the reporters did not report what Bennett has been up to recently or in the last 12 years.
Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal knows what Bennett has been up to recently and for the last 12 years. He’s made it known that Bennett is one of his “three targets,” along with Burry and Rich, this November. Gopal, the Monmouth Dems and the APP are struggling for relevancy in Monmouth County. If they join forces, as they have in the past, the Monmouth GOP will have a fight on its hands with no cover coming from opponents to Booker or Congressman Frank Pallone.