Freeholder Nomination Race Update

By Art Gallagher

The municipal chairs of western Monmouth County are hosting a candidates forum for those seeking the GOP nomination for Monmouth County Freeholder tomorrow at 9:30am at the county library on Symmes Road in Manalapan.  The chairs from the region are scheduled to meet following the forum to discuss endorsing a candidate.

Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas will have the home field advantage.  Wall Committeeman George Newberry and Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich are rallying their supporters to attend the event.

With the screening committee meeting to choose a candidate for the party line a month away, it might be early for a block on chairmen to announce an endorsement.   The field currently consists of Lucas, Newberry and Rich.  None of the three are considered a lock for the nomination in what is shaping up to be a very competitive race.

Rich, who is making his third bid for a Freeholder nomination, now has the backing of former Red Bank Chairman Jim Giannell.  Giannell’s relationships with chairs in the Two Rivers region and the Bayshore are a significant boost to Rich this time around.

In the fight for the 2006 nomination, Giannell threw his support to Lucas during a wild and contentious nominating convention.  Lucas won the nomination but he and Giannell later had a failing out when Lucas did not support Giannell against Adam Puharic in the race for county chairman.

To a certain extent, Rich vs Lucas is a battle for influence between Giannell and Manalapan Chairman Steve McEnry and his loosely aligned western Monmouth chairman’s group.

Newberry has the strong support of the Wall Township Republicans.  County Clerk Claire French’s support of Newberry is significant.   The Rich camp and the Lucas camp both consider Newberry to be County Chairman Joe Oxley’s choice, despite Oxley’s efforts to remain neutral through the process.  Oxley is the Wall Township Borough Attorney.

All three candidates are counting votes and think they have enough support to win a race that like last year’s contest is looking to be closely divided.  Last year Tom Arnone beat  Tom Wilkens of Middletown by 4 votes.  Rich came in third, but only 12 votes separated him and Arnone.

However, the field of three candidates may expand or change.

Lucas has been telling people, including MoreMonmouthMusings, that he will not ask the screening committee for the nomination unless he is confident that he has the votes to win.  He told MMM that at this point he thinks he has the votes and has no intention of dropping out.

But some have heard Lucas’s words to mean that he might drop out.   This has led others to consider entering the race.  Howell Mayor Bob Walsh is the most notable potential candidate. 

Walsh, a Republican who was elected as an Independent in Howell, declined to enter the Freeholder nominating race earlier due to an family matter concerning his son’s health.  That situation is now managable and Walsh has his family’s support to run if he so chooses.  Walsh told MMM that he won’t run against Lucas with whom he is very friendly, but that he will run should Lucas drop out.

Posted: February 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth GOP | Tags: , | 26 Comments »

26 Comments on “Freeholder Nomination Race Update”

  1. Erik said at 12:49 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    Here’s what troubles me about this race – the fact that George Newberry is being rammed down our throats. I have a problem b/c of the conflict Newberry has w/ Oxley.

    As Mayor, who did MR Newberry appoint to be the municipal attorney of Wall; none other thsn George Newberry.

    I can see the convo now… Hey George, make me the muni attny & you can run for Freeholder… I’ll throw my support behind you and even let you use our
    po box.

    This whole situation is disgusting. I’m getting REALLY tired of the fix being in, just like it was last year with Wilkens. Hopefully this years outcome is the same as last years.

  2. TR said at 1:13 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    I predict Rich will win a 3 way race.

    Giannell usually has a ace up his sleeve

  3. James Hogan said at 1:51 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    Erik, except that the problem with your statement is that I asked George, and Joe, about the PO Box. The PO Box doesn’t belong to Joe, or the County GOP, it belongs to Mary Fran and John Lane. Mary Fran is George’s ELEC approved/certified treasurer and volunteers to run/work/organize the Lincoln Day event. Mary Fran is NOT Joe Oxley’s treasurer (Joe told me the name of his treasurer but I forget the name, you can ask him, he’ll tell you if it matters to you) and and Mary Fran’s PO box is NOT Joe Oxley’s PO box.

    Also, I mean, don’t you find the notion you’re suggesting to be a bit, I dunno, silly? I mean “give me a job so you can use a $12 po box” (that is the cost AFAIK – $12 for 6 months) Doesn’t that just seem silly to you?

    I just strongly suspect that your assumption for any such conversation between Joe Oxley and George Newberry is wildly incorrect and I’d bet if you reach out to either and ask the same questions I asked, you’d get the same, reasonable, answers.

    FYI – I’ll be at the candidate’s forum tomorrow to see what each is bringing to the table and hopefully be able to relay information back to my local voters. Come say hi to me and if you need I’ll introduce you to Joe or George or anyone else I’ve met and you can ask them about such a conversation.

    As for Newberry being rammed down anyones throat, I’ll say this much — rammed or not, I’ve only heard from/received mail from/seen one of these candidates, Newberry. I didn’t run into Lucas or Rich at Lincoln Day Dinner and I’ve yet to receive mail from either. I’m not the chairman in LB so maybe one or both HAVE reached out to my chairman who hasn’t passed that along. From my own research, any of these 3 candidates appears to be a good choice and I have no personal or political reasons to support one over the other at this point — we should consider the party lucky to have more than one hard working candidate and rather than beat up Newberry for working hard and reaching out to voters, maybe consider if he is the hard working candidate who will reach out to voters in the general election and help Republicans in up and/or down ticket races rather than just ride along on a ticket and expect to be carried along by up or down ticket races, who might be counting on the same, resulting in a bunch of losses.

  4. James Hogan said at 2:01 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    Just to follow-up for accuracy… the PO box I have is for a year so $72 for 12 months or $6/month… even cheaper than I thought. Again, I could be wrong, but I don’t think Joe or George would buy/sell anything out for $6/month, it just doesn’t seem reasonable.

    Just my $0.02 contribution… hopefully I can still afford that PO box now….

  5. Jerry said at 3:58 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    Who’s cramming George Newberry down our throats? He popped up out of nowhere and I see that as a good thing. Frankly, I think he’s a breath of fresh air. He seems highly qualified and everyone who knows him characterizes him the same way: a humble, honest, regulary guy with tons of integrity. Who cares where his campaign mail is sent?

  6. Barry said at 5:13 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    It s McEnery noty McHenry

  7. HELLO, reality check said at 5:26 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    which one has the LEAST baggage the other side can exploit?..( Newberry).. which one can deliver the most votes to help the whole ticket? ( Newberry), which one hasn’t lost a nomination or an election before? (Newberry).. also, enough with the Oxley-bashing and “Wall-hating”, my God, the personal gripes and jealousies are showing like an old lady’s slip!.. how about trying for keeping an “eye on the ball/prize”: winning each seat on Nov. 8, please!.. ps: ONCE more, Oxley, for the county comm., has a Colonia po box, with a respected,long-time att’y. as the treas..the Wall box is used by the Affiliated and many candidates who may ask.. who cares where the mail goes??.. this perceived “cloak-and-dagger” mentality is getting very old- happens every election!.. wake up and grow up. please….

  8. Erik said at 9:00 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    Ask any one in the know, and you’ll hear the same thing. The attempted fix is in.

    And its not the notion of the PO box… that is what it is. I enjoy how everyone ran with.

    What you, and no one else is denying is that there was OBVIOUSLY a deal made between the two. Make me your municipal attorney & I’ll throw my power behind you to be the next Freeholder. That to me is a farse & is a serious ethical issue that I have a problem with.

    Seriously, if Joe Oxely was such a good attorney, dont you think he would have more municipal work then Wall & Monmouth Beach? Look at the Carton’s, Bennett’s, Ferriero’s, et al; when they were on top of the world, they were attorneys across multiple towns. That should tell you all you need to know.

    This is really getting old. I never thought I’d say this, but bring back the Niemann days where the county committee was voting. This screening committee is nonsense.

    And what I know of Newberry, he seems nice; ditto Rich & Lucas. I have no qualms with him per say. Just the backhanded manner in which him & our chairman brokered their arrangement.

  9. ok, said at 11:16 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but isn’t all politics, and all business, for that matter,comprised of deals and senarios, and compromises, and plans to win and/or be in charge?.. and, have you looked in the phonebook lately,to see how many people now live here, and how many of them happen to be lawyers, looking for all types of work,as in all other professions?. .and, aren’t most lawfirms bi-partisan, anyway, with work divided among different places?.. all I care about in our county, as a Rep. and volunteer worker, is who the heck will have the best chance in Nov. to help our side win, and hopefully do a better job for the taxpayers, than most Dems do….and, someone has to get hired as everybody’s attorney,when the dust settles..not being one, am just glad when one is one of “us”.. you’re right, the declared three so far ,seem like nice guys, just think politically, Newberry will be a better fit and performer for this year…

  10. oh, no, said at 11:22 pm on February 25th, 2011:

    puh-leese, we still have scars and divisions that never really healed, from those “open” conventions!!..call your chair with your choice, and save some political blood, sweat and tears!

  11. erik said at 12:50 pm on February 26th, 2011:

    OK – not to be rude, but I really could not comprehend the message you were trying to convey. I dont meant to be the grammar police, but that was a painful read.

    OH, NO – scars? It’s open government. It allows for fair voting by those who have an active interest in local/county politics. The scars occur when people get to personal w/ those who “have the audacity” to run against them. Hopefully, we have candidates this year that will accept that that they lost, not hold a grudge & support the winner.

    Wasnt the whole purpose of having open voting to elimate the backroom deals? If that wasnt the case, why did we toss out Bill Dowd years ago?

  12. amused said at 1:55 pm on February 26th, 2011:

    Hey Eric

    What makes you the expert of politics in Wall , obviously you know nothing about Newberry. If you knew him you never would have made that statement- there is nothing backroom about Newberry – what you see is what you get . Why don’t you
    reach out to him – have a one on one –
    if you get to know him better you would understand why backroom deals would be foreign to his nature .

  13. brian d said at 1:56 pm on February 26th, 2011:

    And which one gets Burry’s spot? After the facts come out about Brookdale—which names it’s buildings after Freeloaders–she was either complicit or ignorant–neither of which entitles you to be re-elected.
    We need NEW blood at every level.

  14. Freespeaker1976 said at 2:05 pm on February 26th, 2011:

    I for one left the forum VERY impressed with Mr. Rich. Very well spoken and articulate. I like George Newberry, he came off as unprepared and seemed to lacking the ability to fully answer a question.

    Mr. Walsh, although amiable and a nice guy with a lot of personality seemed the least prepared for the step up.

    So, in my mind, the race should be between Lucas & Rich…

    Just one man’s opinion.

  15. Jim Sage, Marlboro said at 5:48 pm on February 26th, 2011:

    Congratulations to those four men who threw their hats into the ring to SERVE the people of Monmouth County AND to be the advocate voice for the taxpayers.

    What I don’t understand is why current critical issues facing the county were not discussed. Everybody had generic phrases with key buzzwords that are so typical in elections.

    For example, Freeholder John Curley, exposed the provisions of the gold-plated contract of the president of Brookdale Community College. He brought up the fact the county taxpayers paid for his vehicle, house, club memberships and tuition for his two children. RIDICIULOUS!!!

    What about the actions of the SCAT bus
    drivers that took advantage of our most vulnerable members of society–our senior citizens. They conducted what appears to be a job action. I say conduct an investigation (call them all in)–find out what was happening on this particular day. If it is substantiated a “job action” was conducted: FIRE THEM!! ( a la Reagan during the air-traffic controller days of 1980).

    Parks Department: Why are the most highly compensated employees in county taxpayer subsidized housing???

    Sheriff’s Department: Why hasn’t the pension fraud of a high ranking officer been addressed?? It’s depleting the already depleted pension funds, and needs to be addressed. Why is another high ranking Sheriff’s Officer given a 24/7/365 unmarked police vehicle to take home, when she lives a mere 4 miles from work??? Keep in mind 10% percent of the correctional officers was laid off not too long ago. Why are correction officers doubling their salaries? Why aren’t we getting a better rate from the Department of Homeland Security for housing ICE prisoners?? We get $105 per day, other counties get $130.

    Like “Freespeaker 1976,” I liked Mr. Rich. He had a handle on the issues, he is a private business man, and he has tried several times in the past. Hopefully, this time will do it.

    Mr. Walsh: He tells it like it is in a humorous manner. If he doesn’t know something–he honestly will tell you he doesn’t know–no bullcrap from him. (he would be my second choice)

    Mr. Newberry: Couldn’t tell ya–I fell asleep while he spoke. He is as exciting as a hockey puck! Although monotone, he did have a good point about consolidating various police departments into one unified police force–he’s against it. Frankly, so am I. I do like the concept of a personal, friendly and above all, accountable department. It may work, but why find out the hard way.

    Andy Lucas: Andy, you may be from my sister town to the west; however, when I asked you if you were running for Freeholder, you told me “NO.” If you would lie over a simple request like that, what else would you lie about. Further more, during the largest case of academic fraud in your school district–your voice was not heard from.

    It appears you have a cloud of ethical questions hanging over you head in Manalapan regarding real estate issues. I don’t think these issues are going to be resolved anytime soon. In my opinion, these issues render you unelectable, despite repeatedly winning in a town with a 2-1 ratio favoring democrats.

    Just my humble and brutally honest opinion.

  16. All four men said at 7:13 pm on February 26th, 2011:

    did well, each has his strong points.. that being said, believe Mr. Newberry was the most open, thoughtful, and genuine, that’s just how he struck me.. agree Lucas is the weakest link who would be of the least help, and create the most fodder for criticism, by the other side and the press, than the others.. just “one man’s opinion”.. great attendance, fair and professional handling of the event, and “a good time was had by all”: am VERY proud to be a Monmouth County Republican!

  17. tg said at 8:42 pm on February 26th, 2011:

    Sageinator…..you hit the nail on the head!!

    With the issues not discussed and should have. Art,…. looks like Lucas DOES NOT have homefield advantage afterall.

    I also agree with your rankings Jim!!

  18. Freespeaker said at 6:28 pm on February 27th, 2011:


    “Walsh told MMM that he won’t run against Lucas with whom he is very friendly, but that he will run should Lucas drop out.”

    But, Lucas HASN’T DROPPED OUT & Walsh IS running since he made a presentation at the forum on Saturday.

    Did I miss something or is there something we don’t know?

  19. TR said at 11:26 pm on February 27th, 2011:

    Look just because the chairman endorses someone does not mean the fix is in. Oxely has the right to back whoever he wants. Hell if he wanted to he could unilateraly give the line to Newberry.
    I promise it will be a tight race for the party line and even then anyone who wants to can run in the primary. We all know the line can be beat.
    So instead of whining about the fix being in lobby your elected officials and and municipal chairman for the person you want.
    For the record after considering all the candidates Teddy Roosevelt endorses Rich.

  20. DrJZ said at 2:11 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    At the candidate’s forum, did anybody else notice that Lucas seemed to have all the answers on the tip of his tongue?? Like he already knew the questions in advance? All the other candidates had to think a minute to compose their thoughts, but Lucas rattled off prepared answers.

    As far as the outcome:
    LUCAS has too much baggage, and lost before.
    RICH seems informed, but has gone to the well too many times.
    NEWBERRY came off as very knowledgeable and had good answers.
    WALSH seems like a heck of a nice guy but I don’t think this is his year.

    As memebrs of their party, we need to evaluate who HAS THE BEST CHANCE OF WINNING, so as to gain back 100% of board. To me, that’s Newberry.

  21. Erik said at 2:49 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    Looks like the Newberry folks are out in full force.
    Lucas answered like he knew the questions in advance? Seriously? Maybe, just maybe he is very well versed on the issues.
    Rich has been taken to the well too many times? Another absurd statement.

    Ya know what… I’m going to go out there and just say it. I dont mean to be libelous or make a personal attack, but I have some serious personal intel on George Newberry that will sink his ship right now.
    George Newberry Hates Kittens!
    Thats right, I put it out there and I’m sticking to it. That comment is just about as assinine as some of the comments about Lucas & Rich that I have read on here. The same people who are making these comments are the ones who showed up Sat am only to akwardly cheer at every word Newberry said. Those who were there know what I speak of.

    Anyway, anyone I spoke to – not from Wall – said the exact same thing. There was clearly two tiers of candidates in terms of how they spoke & answered. Lucas & Rich up top. Newberry & Walsh on the bottom.

  22. TR said at 2:50 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    And why would Lucas know that since the since according to the posters here there is a sinister plot to annoint Newberry.
    Maybe Lucas is just smart. ( he is ) Although I do think baggage is a viable question with regard to him.

    And since when is the fact that someone previously sought the backing of the party to run and did not recieve it disqualify him?
    it is not as if he ran in a general or even a primary and lost. If that is the best argument you have against him give it up.

    In fact I think the fact that Rich keeps trying is in his favor. It shows dedication.

    I like Rich because he is well spoken, good appearance, conservative, experienced and knowledgable about the issues. Will absolutly beat Mallet

  23. Observer said at 3:10 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    I was at the forum and Newberry’s performance can be described with many adjectives. Knowledgeable is not one of them. He was unfamilair about open space preservation, and did not seem to realize Freeholders can preseve open space without a referendum. If he was speaking that people support it through referenda so it is a good idea then he was completely disingenuous about his answer about taking an unpopular position. If he is elected as a freeholder then the open space preservation is his call not a poularity contest.

    To me he looks like a great guy, probably would have no problem getting elected, but unknown what type of freeholder he would be.

  24. Freespeaker1976 said at 4:34 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    Remember that last year, Rich lost by 12 votes separating him and Arnone. He now has the backing of Jim Giannel (spelling?) in Red Bank as well as other Bayshore support.

    Now, about Newberry. The following is NOT meant to be mean. It is an observation of what I saw. He looked frumpy (the hands in his pockets and constant sips of water made him look nervous) He was NOT prepared on the issues.

    But then again, the regular rank and file don’t really have much to say on the matter.

  25. A Chair said at 5:26 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    Not for nuttin but how many Freeholders that Giannel has backed have won? Answer -a lot.
    Out of those how many times did the chairman want somebody else?

    Giannel is pretty good at organizing coalitions. getting the Greek on his side was a smart move by Rich.

    Also Rich was out there early calling chairman and seeking their support. His couple of losing runs made him a better candidate.

    If I where a betting man I would give a small edge to Rich.
    Walsh and Lucas cannabilize each other and it comes down to Newberry or Rich.

    It may depend on who shows up.

  26. Jim Sage, Marlboro said at 5:34 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    If anyone attends the proposed budget meeting at the Shrewsbury Library, please let us know what happened. If the four distinguished gentlemen attend and fail to say SOMETHING about some of the issues I outlined above, then it tells me that there not interested in being the advocate for the people of Monmouth County!! On the other hand, if they FAIL to attend at all, I think this will really indicate their sincerity–or lack thereof–to represent the people.