Ocean County GOP Endorses Candidates for the 2019 Primary Election

via app.com

TOMS RIVER – Former Brick Councilman John Catalano is the Ocean County Republican Party’s choice to succeed state Assemblyman David W. Wolfe in the 10th Legislative District.

Catalano, 69, won the endorsement by unanimous acclamation at the GOP’s nominating convention Wednesday night. There was no opposition. That means Catalano has the party’s official line in the June 4 Republican primary — which he must win to be on the Nov. 5 ballot as the party’s nominee.

 The Ocean County Republican Party holds its nominating convention at the Days Hotel by Wyndham in Toms River. Brick Councilman John Catalano, center, waits to hear if he will receive the endorsement for state Assembly in the 10th Legislative District. Toms River, NJ Wednesday, March 13, 2019
The Ocean County Republican Party holds its nominating convention at the Days Hotel by Wyndham in Toms River. Brick Councilman John Catalano, center, waits to hear if he will receive the endorsement for state Assembly in the 10th Legislative District. Toms River, NJ Wednesday, March 13, 2019  (Photo: Doug Hood )

“I’m tired of yelling at my TV, yelling at my radio and the perfect opportunity happened now with our terrific Assemblyman Dave Wolfe retiring, that I could jump in and do a little for our district and the people of New Jersey,” Catalano said in his public remarks after he received the endorsement.

Catalano was first chosen by the Ocean County Republican Party’s screening committee last month from a field of seven candidates who were vetted before the panel of senior GOP officeholders.

“I’ve always been a giver, and this is my time when I’d like to do as much as I can to give back to the 10th District, Ocean County and the people of New Jersey,” he said. “So, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and onto November.”

In addition to Catalano, the screening committee had interviewed Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Stephen Reid, 54, Pinelands Commissioner D’Arcy Green, 59, of Mantoloking, Toms River Councilman Dan Rodrick, 43, Lakehurst Councilman Jim Davis, 63, former Brick Councilwoman Ruthanne Scaturro, 67, and Samantha DeAlmeida, 29, of Brick, who is the New Jersey government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network New Jersey and a former researcher for the state Assembly.

Check out the video on app.com to see the moment when John Catalano secured the endorsement of the Ocean County Republican Party.

The endorsement was always expected to go to a Republican from Brick. With a population of 76,000, Brick is the second-largest town in the 10th District and Wolfe is the only lawmaker in the Legislature from Brick. Toms River, the largest town in the district with a population of more than 93,000, has two representatives in the Legislature.

Moreover, because of the size of Brick’s voting bloc, its Republican delegation wields significant influence in the county GOP organization despite the fact that Democrats control the municipal government.

The other top contenders for the endorsement included Scaturro and DeAlmeida.

The 10th District includes Bay Head, Brick, Island Heights, Lakehurst, Lavallette, Manchester, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights and Toms River. From that district, Wolfe serves alongside fellow Republicans state Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin, both of Toms River.

 In addition to the much-publicized contest surrounding Wolfe’s would-be successor, the county GOP Wednesday night endorsed Freeholders Virginia E. Haines and Jack Kelly for re-election, as well as Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy on the countywide ticket. The committee also endorsed Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove and Brian E. Rumpf in the 9th District and McGuckin in the 10th District; Assemblymen Ronald S. Dancer and Robert D. Clifton in the 12th District; and Assemblymen Sean T. Kean and Edward H. Thomson in the 30th District.

In January, Wolfe, 76, of Brick, announced that he would not seek re-election this year after what will be 28 years in the Assembly when he retires from public life in January 2020.

The Ocean County Democratic Party is scheduled to meet on March 23 to endorse its candidates for state and county offices. However, Wyatt Earp, its chairman, banned reporters from his party’s nominating convention in 2017 over claims of negative media coverage in the past.

This is a developing story. Stay with app.com for updates.

Erik Larsen: 732-682-9359 or elarsen@gannettnj.com