Updated: Former Marlboro GOP Chairman Christopher Dean wants the world to know that Councilman Scalea was never a Republican and that he has proof from the Board of Elections. Dean says that MMM is spreading Mayor Hornik’s lies and that facts don’t matter on this site. He said he’s going to spread the word at some meetings he has coming up.
Desperate to be a player and for a victory of any kind, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal told a gathering of statewide Democrats in Freehold on Wednesday evening that Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik’s reelection race is his top priority this year, according to report on PolitickerNJ.
Marlboro is a Republican town. Year after year the Township’s voters break for Republicans for Freeholder, County Constitutional offices, State Legislature, Governor, Congress, Senate and President.
Yet Hornik leads a municipal government that on paper is Democratic. The reality is that Hornik’s administration is dominated by former Republicans who left a dysfunctional local GOP at the mayor’s urging.
Hornik, whose father Saul was mayor of the community from 1980-1991, was first elected in 2007 in a race remembered for incumbent Republican Robert Kleinberg distributing flyers implying that he had been endorsed by NJ 101.5’s morning host Jim Gearhart. Gearhart and Gannett columnist Bob Ingle , then media leaders of the GRIP (Get Rid of Incumbent Politicians) movement, went ballistic on Kleinberg. Kleinberg imploded during a live radio interview wherein he explained the flyers were not meant to imply an endorsement, but as a way to show his kids that people were saying nice things about him.
But even without Kleinberg’s public embarrassment, Hornik might have won that race. A savvy politician like his father who, over the course of his career was both a Republican and a Democrat (according to his Greater Media obituary), the younger Hornik came to power by recruiting the best talent of both political parties in Marlboro to join him for the good of the community. He crippled the Marlboro Democratic Organization by starting his own New Democratic Organization. Once he was the Democratic nominee for mayor in 2007, he recruited Republicans unhappy with Kleinberg to join him. Republicans for Hornik lawn signs dominated the Marlboro landscape during that campaign.
Once in power, Hornik, with his law partner and running mate Frank LaRocca, took over the Marlboro Democratic Organization and continued to recruit local Republicans to their team, dubbed LaHornicca by MMM. Rewarding both Democrats and Republicans with jobs and appointments, Hornik’s administration is now dominated by former Republicans. It’s not a matter of partisanship, Hornik frequently says. It is a matter of what is best for Marlboro.
The majority of Marlboro’s five person council is now former Republicans. Jeff Cantor, once a GOP nominee for freeholder, Carol Mazzola were both first elected as Republicans. Michael Scalea changed his affiliation to Democrat in order to be appointed to replace LaRocca who resigned his council seat and retired from politics to become an municipal court judge in Keyport.
Hornik, Scalea and incumbent Democratic Councilwoman Randi Marder will face Republican candidates who have yet to be announced by new Republican Chairwoman Selika Josiah Gore in November. Hornik and Marder will seek their third terms. Scalea his own first full term.
Honik was reelected with 70% of the vote in 2011. He has to be considered a heavy favorite to be reelected again in 2015.
That Gopal has declared Hornik’s reelection his top priority is good news for Republicans elsewhere in Monmouth County, particularly 11th District Assembly incumbents Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande and Red Bank Republicans who have an opportunity to turn take control of the historically Democratic stronghold with a sweep in November.