Wall Township Mayor John Devlin would just as soon not have to brave the wildcard impact of a national race.
A Democrat in a Republican town – the first Democratic mayor, in fact, in town history, he says voters know him locally as a nonpartisan elected official.
Although he prefers to run in non-presidential election years, his record is 1-1.
“I won when I ran in 2000, the year Bush beat Gore,” says the mayor. “Then I lost in the 2004 election, when Bush beat Kerry. That was a large turnout election. The Republican community came out in droves.
“I ran a year later and won,” adds the only Democrat on the committee.
Of the 53 towns in Monmouth County, Wall is home to the county’s sixth largest number of registered voters. It’s also home to state Sen. Sean Kean (R-Monmouth), a surrogate and organizer for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential election.
“I don’t think Sean Kean’s work on behalf of McCain will impact me,” Devlin says. “People know me in town, and I get elected – even though I’m a registered Democrat. I focus on local issues.”
The rest of the committee – two Republicans and two Independents – unanimously chose him to be mayor.
He’s not taking the race for granted, however, and in the final week plans three mail pieces.
“I have 25 volunteers helping me, plus we’re doing our phone banking,” says the mayor, who’s running in part in opposition to the new state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) regulations, championed by the Democrat-controlled State Legislature.
“One thing I will say is, in the past, in Wall, I never used to see lawn signs for Democratic presidential candidates, only Republican signs, but this year the Obama signs are out there,” Devlin says.
Devlin is running with Joseph Tonzola against Republican running mates George Newberry and Ann Marie Conti for two seats on the committee.