Inside Ocean County Government

Brick, Toms River

Wyatt Earp Disses Gilmore & Trump, Talks 2017 Strategy in Speech to Brick Democrats

Ocean County Democrat Chairman Wyatt Earp speaks at a Brick Democratic Club meeting.

BRICK – Wyatt Earp, the chairman of the Ocean County Democrats had harsh words for both Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore along with President-elect Donald Trump in a speech made to the Brick Democratic Club, Ocean County’s sole Democratic stronghold.

Wyatt Earp, seen at the meeting.

In his speech at the January meeting of Brick’s Democratic club, Chairman Earp began his remarks by praising Mayor John Ducey’s work in bringing a new drug treatment initiative to Brick in which certain offenders are eligible for treatment rather than jail time, something that he characterized as evidence of the Ducey administration’s success.

“The contrast to that is in the federal elections,” Earp declared, referring to Donald Trump’s November victory over Hillary Clinton. The Ocean County Democratic chairman expressed his discontent with some of Trump’s cabinet picks.

“People said that Donald Trump was lying. People said Donald Trump is crazy and nobody could believe that it could be that bad and now we’re looking at the appointments that this guy is making,” he said.

“The secretary of labor actually has over 2000 labor violations in his business,” Earp alleged of labor pick Andrew Puzder, a corporate fast food executive. “You have to work extra hard to get thousands of labor violations, this guy has those.”

“The secretary of state is guy who has dealt with war criminals on a regular basis,” he said, referring to Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick to serve as secretary of state.

Still, despite his critique of Trump’s cabinet picks, Mr. Earp said he doesn’t wish for President-elect Trump to fail once he assumes the office of the president.

“I don’t want Donald Trump to fail,” the county Democrat leader said. “He wasn’t my choice – I want him to succeed – I want the country to be successful, my fear is that it won’t be and we need to shine a light on some of the things that he is doing so that maybe we can keep it from going too far over the edge.”

Democrats To Target Toms River, Berkeley Council Races In 2017

Following his remarks about presidential politics, Earp turned to the situation here in Ocean County. “There are some exciting things happening in Ocean County,” he said.

Earp praised Toms River’s Daniel Rodrick, who unsuccessfully sought a seat on the township council when he challenged incumbent Kevin Geoghegan (R) in the 2016 race. “In a district where Hillary lost by almost 70 to 3, he actually lost by 3 points,” Earp said. He said that based on the number of registered Republicans in that ward, it was a “tremendous” outcome.

With Brick’s council members facing reelection in 2017, Earp was optimistic about preserving the township’s Democratic majority, citing the county organization’s intent to have a full slate of candidates in this year’s Toms River and Berkeley council races to divide the incumbent Republican organization’s efforts to re-take control of Brick government.

“It helps Brick because now George Gilmore, besides having to worry about the federal government investigating him, and the IRS chasing after him and whatever else he may have going on, he now can’t concentrate his efforts just on Brick, he’s got to worry about what he’s got in Toms River.”

Democrats Have Had Success In Brick, But Remain Anemic Elsewhere

In recent times, Brick Township has been the only town in which Ocean County Democrats have been able to consistently see victory. Elsewhere, Democrats have not had a modicum of success in heavily Republican Ocean County. In other towns, every now and then, one or two members of the party occasionally have picked up seats in majority-Republican towns. In Little Egg Harbor, Democrat Lisa Stevens – who was originally elected with estranged running mate Democrat Dave Schlick –  has been known to capitulate with the Republican majority, leading to infighting within the Great Bay Democratic organization as leadership seeks to remove Stevens.

Another display of the party’s weakness was visible in Barnegat and came in the form of Susan McCabe. In that town, Susan McCabe won election to the township committee as a Democrat but flipped to the Republican party after securing a job as an adjunct professor at Ocean County College, which counts several influential GOP-aligned lawyers among the members of its board of trustees.

At the county level, the only positions the Democrats have been able to reliably fill have been judgeships, with the party’s last victory to countywide office being in 1989 with the election of Paul Brush and Mark Troncone to the freeholder board, with Troncone now being an Ocean County Superior Court judge. Another former Democratic candidate, Chris Leitner, secured a judgeship of his own in late 2016.

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