Hornik making the rounds, “not actively running for governor”

Jon Hornik2Just as we predicted at the start of the year, Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik has started his tour of Democratic clubs and committees around the state, not running for governor.

The Star Ledger’s Auditor reports that Hornik spoke to the Warren County Democratic Committee last week, has met with several Democratic County Chairs and plans many other such meetings, not running for governor.

Posted: January 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Politics, Jon Hornik, Marlboro, Monmouth Democrats, NJ Democrats | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

LaRocca defends police in Marlboro schools

Marlboro Township Council President Frank LaRocca issued the following statement on facebook regard his township’s decision to assign armed police officers at the community’s schools on Januaray 3:

“If you saw an armed man walking towards a school would you call 911?  Of course you would, and maybe you would do even more. We have had police in our schools since 1999. This move is simply to put full time police in each school until the assessment is complete on revamping our school security. This is not armed teachers or lunch ladies. These are trained police officers. There is a need for gun control. The assulat weapons have no place in our society at all. But until the school security is brought forward, the police will be in the schools.”

Marlboro High School, part of the Freehold Regional High School District, has had a School Resource Officer assigned to it since 1999, according to Mayor Jon Hornick.

Posted: December 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Connecticut Murders, Marlboro, Sandy Hook Elementary School | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Monmouth Democratic Chairman’s Race

The balloting won’t be until mid-June 2012, but the candidates vying to replace Victor Scudiery as Monmouth County Democratic Chairman are running as if the race will be decided on January 14.

Marlboro Councilman Frank LaRocca and businessman Vin Gopal, an Assembly candidate from the 11th legislative district last month, are building their alliances and working the phones.   LaRocca is the law partner of Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornick.  Gopal, a business partner of Scudiery.  Hornick, considered a Democratic rising star statewide, is all in for his political and business partner as they seek to build an organization to propel the young mayor into higher office.  Scudiery is officially neutral.

During Scudiery’s two decade tenure as chairman he has fought against the state Democratic organization bringing “outsiders” in to fill appointments in the county.  Perhaps the most notable example is the Monmouth Prosecutor’s job in 2005.  Acting Governor Richard Codey nominated Essex County resident Luis Valentin to succeed Republican John Kaye who had held the job for 21 years.   Scudiery objected, wanting the job to go to Monmouth resident Allan Falk.  Scudiery asked State Senator Joe Palaia, a Republican, to block Valentin’s appointment via senatorial courtesy. Palaia stayed out of the Democratic family feud, but Trenton Democrats responded by sending U.S. Senator/gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine and Congressman Frank Pallone to Airport Plaza to demand that Scudiery step down as chairman.  He didn’t.

LaRocca and Hornick, “LaHornicca,” are seen to be allied with the Trenton Democratic establishment.  They have strong ties to State Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski.  Democratic legal powerhouse, DeCotiis, FitzPatrick and Cole, of Teaneck, are the Marlboro borough attorneys.

Gopal, despite having a statewide network of his own, including a close alliance with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, is seen to represent local interests. During his Assembly campaign he expressed a commitment to building a homegrown Democratic organization.

Alliances in the chairman’s race are breaking along similar lines.   Middletown Democratic Chair Joe Caliendo is backing Gopal.  Caliendo and Howell Democratic Chair Steve Morlino often align their forces, creating an insurmountable voting block.  If that alliance stands, Gopal will likely win.

“LaHornicca” has the support of former Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna, who challenged Scudiery in 2000.  McKenna’s law partner, Michael DuPont is also in the “LaHornicca” camp.  DuPont is the treasurer of the New Jersey Turnpike AuthorityDeCotiis is the law firm for the Turnpike Authority.

However, the Red Bank Democrats are split.  Ed Zipprich, the municipal chairman and a councilman supports Gopal.

Democratic campaign and media consultants Pat Politano, of Union County, and Jon Evans of Morris County, famous in Monmouth County for running Brian Unger’s Long Branch mayoral campaign in 2010, are supporting “LaHornicca.”   Politano is closely aligned with former State Democratic Chairman Joe Cryan, a Union County Assemblyman and Undersheriff, and with Cryan’s running mate, Senator Ray Lesniak.

As hard as Gopal and “LaHornicca” are working on building their alliances with current municipal chairs and committee members, most of the voters may not yet be identified.  The entire county committee, of both parties, is up for election in the June 5, 2012 primary.  The current Monmouth County Democratic Committee has over 400 vacancies.   The team that gets candidates to run for those empty seats could control the Monmouth Democratic Organization through June of 2014.

Posted: December 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth Democrats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Kingmaker without a portfolio

A strong argument could be made that the path to becoming a Monmouth County Freeholder goes through Red Bank realtor Jim Giannell’s office. 

Since 2005 when he backed Colts Neck Mayor Lillian Burry, Giannell has picked every non-incumbent Freeholder nominee except two.   One exception was Marlboro Councilman Jeff Cantor who replaced Freeholder Anna Little, a Giannell pick, on the ticket in 2007.  Cantor lost a close election to Democrat John D’Amico and then left the Republican party for Jon Hornick’s Democratic organization in Marlboro.  The other exception is John Curley.  Curley was Giannell’s pick over Serena DiMaso in 2008.  Curley narrowly lost to Amy Mallet in the Obama landslide.  In 2009 Giannell backed Kim Spatola, a former Atlantic Highlands councilwoman over Curley.  Curley prevailed at Joe Oxley’s first candidate selection screening and went on to defeat Sean Byrnes of Middletown in the 2009 Christie landslide in Monmouth. 

With the election of Gary Rich earlier this month, 3.5, counting Curley, of five Freeholders owe their offices to Jim Giannell.  If the former Red Bank municipal chairman’s pick in the current race to replace Assemblyman-elect Rob Clifton, Howell Mayor Bob Walsh, is elected on January 14, Giannell will have picked all five members of the board.

While the Freeholders may owe their careers to Giannell, there is little, if any, evidence that he is a boss, in the classic New Jersey sense of the word.  Once they take office, the Freeholders go their own way.  Burry is supporting Anne Marie Conte over Walsh in the current race.  Curley and Tom Arnone are staying out of the race for now. 

Here is a list of Giannell’s picks for non-incumbent Freeholders since 2005:

2005: Lillian Burry.  Burry ran with incumbent Bill Barham.  Barham was elected at a Republican convention earlier in 2005 to replace long time Freeholder Director Harry Larrison.  Even in the wake of the Operation Bid Rig scandal which tarnished the Republican brand, Barham and Burry defeated Democrats Barbara McMorrow and Rebecca Aaronson and Independent Brian Unger.  The Republican victory was in large measure do to the Asbury Park Press’s call for voters to bullet vote for Unger.  Back then the APP’s endorsement still had influence.  Unger garnered over 18,000 votes.  Burry’s margin of victory over McMorrow was only 1,792 votes. 

2006:  Anna Little and Andrew Lucas.  Little was elected, by one vote, over Howell Mayor Joe DiBella at a convention to replace Amy Handlin who had been elected to the Assembly.  Giannell managed Little’s campaign and her floor fight at the convention. A month later at a contentious multiple ballot nominating convention, Giannell and candidate Terrence Wall threw their support to Lucas in an anti-establishment move against DiBella and then Chairman Fred Neimann.   Little went on to win the rest of Handlin’s unexpired term in the general election.  Lucas lost to Barbara McMorrow. 

2007: Giannell did not have a candidate.  Little, his successful pick in 2006, spent a contentious year battling with Chairman Puharic and Freeholder Director Barham. Little declined to seek the nomination rather than submit to Puharic’s rules for screening and the convention.  Cantor was selected to join incumbent Rob Clifton on the ticket.  Clifton won.  Cantor lost to Democrat John D’Amico.

2008: John Curley was Giannell’s pick over Serena DiMaso who had the backing of Chairman Adam Puharic.  Burry was Curley’s running mate.  In a photo finish election dominated by Obamamania, Burry prevailed and Curley lost to Amy Mallet on the count of provisional ballots.  Democrats took control of the Freeholder Board for the first time in 20 years.

2009: Giannell backed Chairman Joe Oxley in supporting Atlantic Highlands former Councilwoman Kim Spatola over Curley.  McMorrow was up for reelection and was considered a lock to be reelected.  Nominating a woman, given the pro woman gender gap demonstrated by Burry and Mallet’s 2008 victories was considered the only hope of defeating McMorrow.    Just before the nominating meetings for both parties, McMorrow announced she would not seek another term.  Curley won a roll call vote at Oxley’s first screening selection.  The Democrats scrambled to find a candidate to replace McMorrow, settling on Byrnes from Middletown over Mike Beson of Neptune Township.  Curley defeated Byrnes and Republicans won back control of the Board.

2010:  Giannell’s pick, Tom Arnone, narrowly defeated former Middltown Committeeman Tom Wilkens and Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich.  Arnone and incumbent Rob Clifton went on to defeat D’Amico and Spring Lake Councilwoman Janice Venables.

2011: Giannell backed Rich over Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas, who had Burry’s support, Walsh, and Wall Township Committeeman George Newberry.  Rich won the nomination with 25 votes in the screening committee. Lucas has 23 votes and Newberry 22.  Walsh withdrew before the polling.   Rich and incumbent Burry went on the defeat Mallet and newcomer William Shea earlier this month.

2012?  Monmouth County Republicans have not had a nominating convention of all county committee members since 2008.  It remains to be seen if Giannell can pull off another close race.   Don’t bet the house against Bob Walsh.

Posted: November 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth County Republican Committee, Monmouth Democrats, Monmouth GOP | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments »

Scudiery To Retire As Monmouth Dem Chairman

Gopal and LaRocca Set to Battle For The Seat

By Art Gallagher

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vic Scudiery will announce his retirement next week.  He will complete his current term, which ends in June.  Scudiery will have served for 23 years.

Scudiery’s protoge, Vin Gopal, spent most of this week working the crowd at the League of Municipalities Convention in Atlantic City for support to take over for his mentor.  

According to Blue Jersey’s Jeff Gardner, Gopal is in for a fight.

MMM has learned that the fight will be with Marlboro Councilman Frank LaRocca.

Gopal is a business owner and Scudiery’s partner in Community Publications, the publisher of four monthly newspapers and a magazine serving Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Colts Neck, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Matawan, Middletown, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, and Union Beach.  He was an Assembly candidate in the 11th legislative district this year.

LaRocca, along with his running mates, Mayor Jon Hornick and Council President Randi Marder were reelected in Marlboro earlier this month. LaRocca, Hornick and Marlboro Deputy Mayor Larry Rosen are law partners.

With the chairman’s election not until June, there is plenty of time for other players to enter the race. 

There has not been a contest for the Monmouth County Democratic chairmanship since 2000 when then Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna unsuccessfully challenged Scudiery for the post.

Posted: November 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth Democrats | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Marlboro Is Having An Election Where People Seem To Care

By Art Gallagher

Its four weeks before election day, yet it hardly looks like campaign season throughout much of Monmouth County. Lawn signs are scarce in the parts of the county where I’ve traveled.  I’ve only received one mailer.

The Asbury Park Press is doing their usual interviews of legislative and county candidates, but you’d have to go looking to find the write ups.

Governor Chris Christie’s presidential consideration has commanded much of the political attention and dominated the news.  The legislative races are uncompetitive.  Campaign money is scarce due to stifling pay to play laws and the poor economy.

Voter turnout is historically very low in years when the legislature is the top race.  2007 was the last such year.  In Monmouth County 128,169 people voted in 2007.  The following year, when Obama was elected, 292,037 people voted.  200,199 voted in the gubernatorial election of 2009 and 179,133 voted in the congressional elections last year.  There are 379,431 registered voters in Monmouth County, according to Labels and Lists.

Marlboro is the exception.   The Democratic incumbents, Mayor Jon Hornick running with Council members Frank LaRocca and Randi Marder are running hard to retain their offices.  On paper, the municipal race in Marlboro should be a sleeper like the rest of the races in the county.  Democrats have a 2619 voter registration edge in the township. The Republican organization is fractured and much of its best talent is supporting the Democrats.   The underfunded Republican upstart candidates are relative newbies to the political process.

Yet legacy Mayor Jon Hornick and his team are running as if their lives, or livelihoods, depend upon it.  They been advertising on NJ.com, they have billboards, lawn signs and mailers.  They raised a lot of money and they are spending it.

With little organizational support, the scrappy underfunded team of Craig Marshall for Mayor running with Christopher Dean and Marianne Duffy-Longobardi for Council appear to be making a race of it.

The legislative races are snoozers.  The county races are comatose, as are most municipal races.  Marlboro is the only game around so MMM will focus on it over the next few weeks.

Posted: October 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Marlboro | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments »