OCEAN COUNTY, NJ – The Ocean County Republican Organization met earlier this month to cast their votes for party line endorsements. They jampacked a Toms River ballroom and exchanged plenty of handshakes and hugs. However, that was before the age of social distancing. Yesterday, their Democratic counterparts found themselves confined to a conference call format, with most lines muted.
“As you know, I did not come out publicly for any candidate,” began Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp. “I think we have a great group of people, and I am very proud that the Democratic Party was able to field such a great group.”
After making that announcement, Earp clarified that he planned on one exception as he was clearly supporting Andy Kim for reelection in the third district.
Earp stressed that he felt it was most important for the party to come together after the endorsements for the various candidates. “We can’t let what happened to us four years ago with people being angry and upset,” said Earp. “It kept us from winning the presidency.”
In making their endorsement selections, eligible voting committee members had the opportunity to view videos provided by the candidates. They were made available for all to see regardless of the district, as well as a report submitted on behalf of the screening committee.
Jeff Van Drew’s decision to become a Trump Republican leaves his seat open in CD-2. “I am very disappointed about that,” admitted Earp. “He said he had a fight and wasn’t willing to stay for what he said were his values.”
Meanwhile, Van Drew’s departure served as the impetus for some issues among democrats in the second congressional district. According to Earp, he had conference calls with Amy Kennedy’s campaign and attorney. Those supporting Kennedy wanted an open primary, which was ultimately allowed so that “no one would get hurt feelings.” The organization did not take a vote in CD-2.
Helen Duda, administrator of CD-2 Progressive Democrats said her group wants to unseat Van Drew with a progressive candidate. Duda is also part of an organization called The Good Government Coalition NJ, which concentrates on getting rid of the primary party line.
“We want to get rid of the primary ballot line, because it is a means of voter suppression,” explained Duda. “In 2018, only an average of 8% percent of eligible voters cast primary ballots.”
According to Duda, the reason for the small turnout is because primary voters are under the impression that the candidates have chosen. Additionally, the people who do vote have been conditioned to just vote down the party line.
“Furthermore, the concept of the line discourages people from running if they don’t get the line,” continued Duda. “Their chances of running are next to none.”
According to reliable sources, a number of local committee members disagreed with Earp’s decision. They also questioned the manner in which the mini convention was conducted and votes counted.
In the CD-4 race, 89 individuals cast votes for the democratic line. Stephanie Schmid came out ahead with 52.2%, leading Christine Conforti by five votes.