TOMS RIVER – Ocean County Freeholder candidate Teddy Price is making fresh accusations against the chairman of the county Democratic Party, Wyatt Earp over alleged support for GOP councilwoman Maria Maruca, the latest in a war of words between the county organization and Price. The county party is calling for Price to withdraw from the race for freeholder.
In an email that was sent out to the Toms River Democrats mailing list this weekend, Price is accusing Ocean County Democrat Chairman Wyatt Earp of “sleeping with the enemy” as a result of certain campaign contributions made to a GOP candidate by labor unions tied to the county Democrat leader.
Price’s email was sent in the wake of the county Democratic Party deciding to withdraw their support of his candidacy. Party leaders blasted Price over his endorsement of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin, who is hoping to unseat longtime incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez.
“Considering that no other candidate, Democrat or Republican received donations from these unions, one might ask themselves, why Toms River Republican Councilwoman Maria Maruca?” Price questioned in the email sent to Toms River Democrats.
“Well folks, it just so happens that Wyatt Earp was living with Republican Councilwoman Maria Maruca’s best friend,” Price claimed in the email, but stopped short of naming the friend.
The county freeholder hopeful also questioned why Toms River Councilwoman Maruca is still holding on to her position with the state Motor Vehicle Commission, given the recent change in administrations at the state level.
Mr. Price said that the spoils system of New Jersey state politics sees the county Democrat chairman recommend new political appointees to replace the existing Republican hires at places like the Motor Vehicle Commission and other state offices.
But Price has claimed that this has not yet taken place with the Murphy administration during Earp’s tenure, leaving employees like Maruca safe.
“Shortly after Toms River Democrats confronted Wyatt Earp about these union donations and the DMV, Wyatt Earp and Mitch Seim organized a chair’s race here in Toms River,” the email claimed.
In that race, Councilman Dan Rodrick was ultimately defeated by Ben Giovine for the Toms River Democratic Party chairmanship. Rodrick left the party for the GOP after Giovine won that race.
“They knew full well it would divide us and destroy all that was built in Toms River,” Price’s email said. “But they went forward with it anyway and destroyed any chance we had in 2019.”
“Hostile To The Democratic Party”
For their part, the Earp-led Ocean County Democratic Committee issued a statement on Sunday night calling on Price to withdraw from the race for freeholder before the deadline of September 12th so that they can replace him with a “real Democrat.”
This weekend, a letter about the Ocean County freeholder race from Monmouth County State Senator Vin Gopal (D) also began circulating. In the letter, Gopal requested that none of his campaign contributions be used to support Price, citing both Price’s endorsement of Hugin and past criminal record, which he called “deeply disturbing.”
Senator Gopal’s full letter:
Mr. Price was critical of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and fired back at Senator Gopal in a statement provided to Ocean County Politics.
“Senator Menendez was charged in an 18 count indictment including bribery, corruption and making false statements,” Price said in the statement. “He got off with a hung jury, but the Senator was reprimanded by the bipartisan ethics committee.”
Price took issue with Gopal’s alleged lack of concern about the alleged ethical failings of New Jersey’s senior senator. “Yet Mr. Gopal isn’t concerned about the Senator’s unethical behavior while in office. Instead he wants to talk about a couple of fights I got into 40 years ago.”
“And when it comes to all of the North Jersey money that’ll be flowing into Ocean County this year, everyone on the inside knows it’ll be funneled to Jackson, where Mitch Seim and his friends are looking to take out Michael Reina.”
The candidate appears to be remaining defiant in the face of tensions with Ocean County Democratic Party leaders, and has pledged that there are “more chapters in this book” concerning his allegations against Earp and the county party.
Price’s full email: