Geography matters, and it’s going to matter more as time goes on.
NJ 101.5’s Bill Spadea spent the final weekend of Primary 2023 supporting off-the-line challengers in hotly-contested legislative battleground districts. Meanwhile, 2025’s only openly-declared GOP gubernatorial candidate to date (Jack Ciattarelli) snapped photos and pressed flesh at the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women Woman of the Year luncheon which was hosted at Clark’s Landing in Point Pleasant Borough (see below).
Point Pleasant lies in Ocean County, of course, and that’s a significant place for Ciattarelli to campaign since the county’s recently-revived chairman (George Gilmore) is Spadea’s closest ally on the party’s inside.
Gilmore is an experienced pol but he hasn’t yet regained his former influence even after receiving a pardon from Donald Trump. His first big convention in March saw candidates win whom he wasn’t backing, and once formerly deferential fellow GOP chairmen are openly aligned against him and Spadea. It’s an open question this far out whether Gilmore can promise the all-powerful Ocean line to Spadea or anyone else; that wouldn’t have even been a question 10 years ago before tax charges forced his resignation.
Ciattarelli and his team get this, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him spend more time in Ocean in the weeks and months between now and November. Most general election races in reliably-red Ocean County aren’t truly competitive, but the 2025 gubernatorial contest – and the ultimate prize of the Ocean line – might very well be.
BTW – a big race to watch on Tuesday night in the Toms River mayoral race where the organizationally-backed candidate (incumbent Mo Hill) also isn’t backed by Gilmore.