The Brutal Aftermath of Brick for the GOP: Toth was seen as Republican Rising Star

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Brick was supposed to be competitive this year, but when Republican Dan Toth removed himself from contention to fight a charge of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor, the GOP found itself faced with a new challenge: how to recover (again) from a collective state of shock before being able to make a game-face next move.

Sources in both parties say the innocent until proved guilty but at present politically deep-sixed Toth was the top of the ticket for the four-man Republican squad this year in an election where council control is at stake. Insiders anticipated this Brick election be one of the fiercest local contests in the state. Even today in the aftermath of Toth’s horrific meltdown a Republican whispered politics, suggesting that “I don’t know… you know, maybe the kid…” his voice trailing off in desperation.

This was supposed to be the young GOP guns guys’ elections, where that crowd of party comers pushed aside in the era of former Mayor Stephen Acropolis would come back now to finally make things right for the GOP in a town where movement conservative Republican Steve Lonegan defeated Cory Booker with over 70% of the vote but where Democrats control seven of seven seats.

It’s the only town in the sprawling county of Ocean with a Democratic mayor.

Toth was going to get a toehold toward two years from now.

This was going to be the election where Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore came back with the warpaint on and exacted payback on the Democratic forces of Mayor John Ducey, who turned the countywide legal giant out of a local contract. None other than crack Republican strategist Bill Stepien was “involved” in this year’s race.

But now the party must weather the shock of losing Toth. One GOP source insisted that Frank Pannucci could shoulder the top of the ticket slot, and argued that Pannucci, the newly appointed administrator in Point Pleasant, could have even made the case that he – and not Toth – topped the ticket as recently as Monday.

“It was really one and two with Toth and Pannucci vying for the top spot,” said a Republican.

Democrats, of course, are adamant that Toth topped the ticket and even go as far as to hint at the argument that the other three guys “were all Toth,” in the words of one operative, as if the former Republican councilman had single-handedly made them. The source points out that Toth ran off the line for mayor in 2013 in the Republican Primary against mortally wounded Acropolis hand-picked candidate Joseph Sangiovanni, and could lay claim in the aftermath as the leader of a less humiliated wing of the Brick Republican Party.

Democrat Ducey beat up Republican Sangiovanni in that general election: 61 to 37% – in a Republican town.

Toth was ready to lead the party back to glory, sources say.

Then yesterday happened.

Two sources close to the action say Gilmore remains committed, and sees this as maybe his best shot to get bodies on the council to tilt the governing body back into the Republican column. Polling well as a local brand, Ducey may be too hard to beat in 2017 when he heads his own slate.

Now is the time.

But maybe now it’s not the time.

“When you throw something up in the air, it comes down eventually, and so it is with Brick,” a GOP source told PolitickerNJ. “Brick is Brick. It’s a Republican town and sooner or later it will go back to being Republican.”

“But I wouldn’t want to be on that GOP ticket and going door to door in Brick right now after this thing with Dan,” another Republican source added.

Democrats close to the ground insist that Gilmore is in part the Republicans’ weakness here, and argue that they win by cutting into that portion of the GOP electorate utterly fed up with the Republican establishment. Toth had personally fought that establishment off the line and was seen as a genuine local star who stood the best chance of uniting fractured GOP forces.

Now no one knows who will replace him and Democrats are trying to spread the notion that the remaining three Republicans are too weak to stand upright on their own without their vanished leader.

Brick by the Numbers:

Brick Township

Population: 75,072                                                                                                           Legislative District: 10th

Number of Districts: 57                                                                                                  Congressional District: 3rd

Form of Government: Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council)

 

Elected Officials and term of office: (all Democrats)

                John Ducey [D], Mayor                                 2014 – 2017

Andrea Zapcic [D], Council                           2013 – 2015

                Heather deJong [D], Council                       2015 – 2017

                Paul Mummalo [D], Council                         2015 – 2017

                Marianna Pontoriero [D], Council             2015 – 2017

                Susan Lydecker [D], Council                        2012 – 2015

                James Fozman [D], Council                          2012 – 2015

                Robert Moore [D], Council                           2012 – 2015

 

2015 Candidates: 4 seats up this year, all Republicans

Council:

Frank Pannucci Jr. [R]

Dan Toth [R] (removed as a candidate this week)

Michael R. Conti [R]

Charles D. Bacon [R]

Andrea Zapcic [D]

Susan Lydecker [D]

James T. Fozman [D]

Arthur Halloran [D]

 

Registered Voters

                Democrats – 9,212

                Republicans – 11,536

                Unaffiliated – 25,844

                Total – 46,624

 

2008

McCain                 21,912     58.37%

Obama                 15,031     40.04%

Turnout                37,704     74.31%

 

 

2009

Governor

CHRIS CHRISTIE [R]                          17,822                   68.19%

JON CORZINE [D]                               6,675                   25.54%

CHRISTOPHER DAGGETT [IND]     1,336                     5.11%

Turnout                                                26,479                   53.46%

 

Sherriff

WILLIAM POLHEMUS [R]              15,756                   65.27% 

GEORGE ARMSTRONG [D]             8,377                   34.70%

 

Freeholders

JOHN BARTLETT JR [R]                    15,976                   34.24%                 

GERRY LITTLE [R]                              15,265                   32.71%

MICHAEL COLLINS [D]                      7,822                   16.76%

ROBERT BIANCHINI [D]                    7,582                   16.25%

 

Mayor

STEPHEN ACROPOLIS [R]              15,781     61.95%

GREGORY KAVANAGH [D]             9,674     37.98%

 

Council

JOSEPH SANGIOVANNI [R]          14,258                   19.72%

DAN TOTH [R]                                    15,142                    20.94%

DOMENICK BRANDO [R]               13,953                   19.30%

KATHY RUSSELL [D]                         10,586                   14.64%

HARVEY LANGER [D]                         8,996                   12.44%

JOSEPH LAMB [D]                              9,335                   12.91%

 

2010 – No elections

 

2011

Council

BRIAN DELUCA [R]                           6,474     10.67%

MICHAEL THULEN [R]                     6,220     10.25%

RUTHANNE SCATURRO [R]          6,159     10.15%

JOHN CATALANO [R]                      6,192     10.21%

JOHN DUCEY [D]                               9,189     15.15%

SUSAN LYDECKER [D]                     8,587     14.16%

JAMES FOZMAN [D]                       8,826     14.55%

ROBERT MOORE [D]                        8,937     14.73%

 

2012

Romney     18,484     55.76%

Obama       14,184      2.79%

Turnout      33,328    65.20%

 

 

 

2013

Gubernatorial

Christie [R]          17331    74.4%

Buono [D]           5633       24.2%

Senate (Oct Special)

Lonegan [R]          8330      66%

Booker [D]           4566        35%

 

Mayor

Joseph Sangiovanni [R]                 8496       37%

John G. Ducey [D]                            13826    61%

 

Town Council–vote for 3

Domenick Brando [R]                     9922       15%

John M. Ciocco [R]                           10035    15%

Victoria A. Chadwick [R]                 10159    16%

Marianna Pontoriero [D]              11185    17%

Paul Mummolo [D]                          10860    17%

Heather DeJong [D}                        10815    17%

 

2014

3rd Congressional District

Tom MacArthur [R]                         9956       58.5%

Aimee Belgrad [D]                           6536       38.4%

 

Town Council 1 year unexpired term

Domenick Brando [R]                     7699       45.49%

Andrea L. Zapcic [D]                        9194       54.33%

The Brutal Aftermath of Brick for the GOP: Toth was seen as Republican Rising Star