By MAX PIZARRO
In a climate of controversy surrounding a decision by incumbent Freeholder Anna Little to break ranks from Party Chair Adam Puharic and run without the machine behind her, the Monmouth County Republican Committee on Saturday nominated Monmouth Beach Commissioner Kim Guadagno for sheriff, and Marlboro Township Committeeman Jeff Cantor for County Freeholder at the party's convention at Brookdale Community College.
Hoping to succeed Sheriff Joseph W. Oxley, Guadagno, a former assistant U.S. attorney, defeated Shaun Golden, an administrative officer with the Toms River Police Department. Guadagno received 289 votes. Golden received 67 votes.
Golden, a little league coach with 20 years of emergency medical services experience, and 15 years in law enforcement, apparently couldn't amass the machine support Guadagno generated with a glowing resume.
"A lot of you are kind of surprised that a woman could be a law enforcement officer," she told the crowd. Then she rattled off a list of past jobs and appointments meant to quell any lingering fears: assistant U.S. Attorney's Office working the organized crime beat; hand-in-glove work with party stalwarts Samuel Alito and Michael Chertoff; a veteran of the Gov. Christie Todd Whitman Administration; professor of law at Rutgers University in Newark.
In a three-way race for the party's nomination for Freeholder against the backdrop of the Little-Puharic rift, Cantor won with 244 votes. He beat Spring Lake Borough Councilman Brian Reilly, who got 64 votes, and Ocean Township Committeeman J. David Hiers, who received 37 votes.
An Iraq War veteran and winner of the Bronze Star for valor, Cantor promised "tenacity, integrity and unity." Pointing to an American Flag near the podium, Cantor said, "I follow one symbol, and that's the flag, right there."