Inside Ocean County Government

Berkeley, Election 2016

Democrats Take Over Former Amato HQ

Wisniewski addresses attendees

Ocean County Democrats have set up shop in the campaign office previously used by Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato and his slate of council candidates in the 2015 election.

Kevin Barron rips down an Amato Team banner left in the office. (Photo: Ocean County Democrats)

Kevin Barron rips down an Amato Team banner left in the office. (Photo: Ocean County Democrats)

Late last week, the Ocean County Democrats kicked off their 2016 general election campaign in the office space that once warehoused Republican Carmen Amato’s 2015 reelection campaign, which saw Berkeley’s incumbent mayor and GOP council candidates win another term in office.

Signs outside the building

Signs outside the building

The Democratic ticket is being headed up by freeholder candidates Michael Cooke and Ed Wolff, both of whom prevailed in the party’s 6-way primary battle.

“This is the time,” said Michael Cooke. “This is when we turn Ocean County blue again.”

One of the Cooke & Wolff team’s former rivals, Joni Brennan, who ran under the Bernie Sanders ticket, emphasized her support for the two, despite having ran against them in the primary.

“They’re wonderful candidates and we will help them as much as we can,” Brennan said. “We just want more people involved and we want the party to go somewhere in Ocean County.” Brennan is now running for local office in Lavallette.

The Wiz Disses Trump


Asm. Wisniewski

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Another notable attendee was none other than “The Wiz” himself. Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), a 2017 gubernatorial hopeful, found time to travel to Bayville for Thursday night’s event. Previously, New Jersey State Democratic Committee Chairman John Currie held an unannounced vote that saw the removal of The Wiz and Reni Erdos as members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for the term following this year’s convention. Supporters of the Sanders campaign characterized the Wisniewski ouster as purge of Bernie backers from the DNC in the wake of – barring the remote possibility of an indictment over her email scandal – a Clinton victory in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The state legislator kept quiet about his controversial removal from the DNC and instead delivered a tongue-lashing against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, while weighing in on Ocean County’s races.

“He’s an absolute idiot – and now he’s the Republican nominee for president,” he declared. Wisniewski remarked that Trump’s Democratic opponents “have their work cut out for them.”

Wisniewski complained that in some places he has seen otherwise “loyal Democrats” with Donald Trump signs on their lawn, something that the state legislator found disturbing. Ocean County’s Republicans endorsed Trump earlier in 2016, after previously electing not endorse any candidates for the presidency.

Wisniewski addresses attendees

Wisniewski addresses attendees

Speaking of the freeholder race, The Wiz opined “We have an ability to send a signal throughout the state of New Jersey on what Ocean County can do.”

Adding fuel to the anti-Trump fire in the room, Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp even offered a mocking impression of Trump’s rhetoric.

Also attending were Democratic usuals like County Chairman Wyatt Earp, Vice Chair Kathy Russell. Berkeley’s last Democratic mayor – and Amato nemesis – Jason Varano was even there. The newly appointed executive director of the Brick MUA, Christopher Theodos, who replaced former Freeholder James Lacey attended along with Brick Councilman James Fozman and his wife Vera. LEHT Deputy Mayor David Schlick was also in attendance, and his efforts to expose “corruption” in Little Egg Harbor were acknowledged.

In the months leading up to November, the office will be the nexus of party’s campaign. It just so happens to be in close proximity to Congressman Tom MacArthur / Donald Trump’s headquarters, also on Route 9 in Bayville.


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