By Art Gallagher
Regardless of the outcome of Freeholder John Curley’s federal lawsuit to prevent the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders from Censuring him and to seal the investigative report into complaints of his harassment of County employees that he obviously believes will destroy his reputation, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Curley is nominated for reelection by the Monmouth GOP.
Curley’s term is up next year. The Republican and Democrat Party nominees for the primary will be chosen by early April.
In his lawsuit, Curley alleges that the investigation and proposed censure is a “political hatchet job” by Freeholder Serena DiMaso. The current mess does nothing for DiMaso politically. Curley and DiMaso were successful running mates in 2012. DiMaso is leaving the Board in January when she will be sworn into the State Assembly. Nothing about this situation benefits DiMaso politically.
Some Curley supporters have been spreading a narrative that the lawsuit/censure situation is an attempt by GOP Chairman Shaun Golden to dump the freeholder. That is equally ridiculous. There was a movement to deny Curley the GOP Freeholder nomination in 2015 after Curley openly worked against Lillian Burry and Gary Rich in the 2014 election. Golden nipped that effort in the bud by scheduling the nominating convention for the day before the Lincoln Day Dinner in February. The Lincoln Day Dinner had been the unofficial kickoff of nominating campaigns for years prior to that move. Nominating conventions were at the end of March, days before the filing deadline of nominating petitions.
This mess is a problem for Golden, not an opportunity. Curley was a reliable winner with only token Democrat opposition in his last two campaigns…2012 and 2015. But for the employee complaints lodged at him, Curley was a lock for reelection as a Republican next year.
Only the Monmouth Democrats benefit politically from the Curley situation. If they nominate Curley, they will have an incumbent running for Freeholder for the first time in a decade. If Curley does not run for reelection, they can run hard for two seats…Curley’s and DiMaso’s. They have never run hard against Curley since he was elected in 2009.
In the November 16 issue of the triCityNews, before the news of the investigation of the Curley harassment complaint became public, publisher Dan Jacobson suggested that Curley, a Democrat when he was first elected to the Red Bank Borough Council, switch parties again in-order-to save his seat. Jacobson, who lives in a Asbury Park/Long Branch/Red Bank bubble, thinks the 2018 election will be a Democrat wave. He wants Curley to be elected because he can’t bear the thought both Curley and Senator Jennifer Beck being out of public life. Jacobson takes credit for thrusting Beck and Curley into office. With Beck gone, Dan is looking to protect his bragging rights and self-perceived influence by saving Curley’s political skin.
Unfortunately for Jacobson, Curley’s political career can’t be saved. It’s all over but for the crying.
The information in the report that Curley is fighting hard to keep from becoming public will inevitably come out. More damaging information, that is not in the report, will come out. The Democrats will insist on knowing what is in the report and what else is out there before they nominate him. If the information was not a big deal, Curley would not be fighting so hard to keep it secret.
Curley’s only hope for making the information he wants to be kept secret from going public is to make himself publicly irrelevant. It’s almost too late for that to happen.