A still reeling former state Senator Andrew Ciesla said Republicans are committed to recovering in the aftermath of charges earlier this week that vaporized their star local candidate for office in a highly anticipated Brick Council race to determine control of the big Ocean County town.
Retired from elected office after having served 20 years in the senate, Ciesla is serving as campaign manager from the ticket formerly headed by his protégé Dan Toth, who formally excused himself yesterday to confront charges of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor.
“We’re certainly going to go forward with a slate,” said Ciesla of Brick, who retired from the senate in 2012 and backed Toth’s unsuccessful but head-turning 2013 off-the-line mayoral candidacy against a mortally wounded county-backed candidate who went on to lose the general mayoral election to Democrat John Ducey in the Republican town.
Ciesla sounded heartbroken over the turn of events that felled Toth, a former star wrestler well-known in Brick, who was running on a slate with other wrestlers and guys who went back to high school together.
“The county committee has to meet,” he told PolitickerNJ. “There will be a campaign. There will be a ticket. We’re hoping to move past this issue. It’s an incredibly embarrassing, shocking and awful incident, but it’s not a reflection on the Republican Party and the rest of the ticket.”
Ciesla’s slate this year wants to take control of four of the town’s seven seats which currently are all occupied by Democrats.
“The [Democratic] mayor is well-received in the town,” the former senator acknowledged of Ducey. “Our guys look forward to working with him; he’s not up for reelection until 2017. But government seems to work better when there’s balance. We think when there’s an interchange of ideas that government works better. It’s out balance right now. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that is minimized when there’s a check in place.”
Ciesla said a number of people in the local Republican organization have stepped forward, people who are “well aware of the circumstances.”
“We’ll get out there and work and call for a meeting and hopefully we’ll have it done by [the deadline of] Sept 10th,” he said. “This will be a ground war campaign. We’ll get past this. This is an individual charged with this horrific crime. It’s horrible because it wrecks everyone’s lives. Dan’s got to get out there and vigorously defend himself.”
Ciesla said he will not personally be the replacement candidate for Toth.
“No,” he said. “I am retired. I’ve made a decision that I will serve in some sort of support role after my 20 years in the senate. I’m retired from business and loving life – except for the past week.”