Home Government In Hard-Fought Toms River GOP Primary, Sifting Through Donors and Spending

In Hard-Fought Toms River GOP Primary, Sifting Through Donors and Spending

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Toms River municipal building. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Toms River municipal building. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

As Toms River’s Republican voters will head to the polls today to decide a hotly contested primary for mayor and council seats, the candidates have been presenting a flurry of mailers, signs and robocalls in efforts to capture those voters’ attentions.

How much have the three mayoral candidates, and four slates for council, been spending on those efforts? And who are the major donors for those campaigns?

Toms River Shorebeat pulled the required reporting forms that show those figures through the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

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The republican primary for mayor sees former Ocean County Prosecutor Joe Coronato as the republican club endorsed candidate, only narrowly earning more votes in the club vote back in March compared to longtime Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill. Hill, a retired rear admiral and dentist, is also running in the primary. A third candidate, Dan Rodrick, is in his first term as a councilman having won his seat last November as a Democrat.

The mayoral race has seen accusations fly between the candidates played out on social media, in their campaign literature and even on the council dais.

Adding to the mix are the three at-large council seats, for a contested republican primary among a field of ten candidates. Christian Momm, school board member Ginny Rhine, and John Meehan are running on Coronato’s slate under the club endorsement.

Matthew Lotano, Joshua Kopp and former councilman Kevin Geoghegan are running on Hill’s slate as Toms River We the People.

Ken Londregan, George Lobman and Justin Lamb are running on Rodrick’s slate as Conservative Republicans.

Heather Barone is running independent of a slate for the council seat.

We’ll focus on the republican primary race’s election spending reports as there is no contested primary for the democrat party primary.

A look at some highlights:

Mo Hill funding fight

Mayoral candidate Hill had to fight for what he felt was his own money. After spending the year prior beginning a re-election committee for him and his fellow council incumbents, who decided not to run, Hill turned his sights on the mayoral seat. But the republican party club committee earmarked that re-election campaign’s money to the club-endorsed candidate and slate, Coronato. Hill sued to access those funds and was successful. His campaign treasury report shows spending on those legal efforts and about $24,000 in campaign funds moving to his slate’s coffer.

Coronato Donors and Spending

Coronato’s treasury reports show receipts of about $52,000, as of 11 days of the primary, although $24,000 of that was the aforementioned Hill campaign disputed money. Another $70,000 was reported through the campaign for his council slate/runningmates of Momm, Rhine and Meehan. That makes this slate the largest in terms of money in the Republican primary race.

Among Coronato’s donors: Jeremey Grunin contributed $2,500; Donato Donofrio Junior contributing $2,500; Dasti Murphy McGuckin law firm contributing $1250; Kelaher Van Dyke Moriarity law firm, T&M Associates and Maser Consulting each contributing $600; and Massimo Yezzi of Yezzi Associates another $1,000.

His campaign received another $5,000 in funding from the county republican club treasury and $8,200 from the Continued Progress PAC, which operates out of the same office address as the county club. Another $9,000 moved from his slate runningmates’ council campaign coffers to his, according to the filing reports.

Under the council campaign’s treasury, donors are some of the same names from Coronato’s separate mayoral campaign reporting, but also union contributions of about $1000 each from such local unions as Pipefitters, Plumbers, and Sheet Metal Workers.

Coronato’s campaign spending highlights include $20,000 spent May 29 through Medium Buying LLC of Columbus Ohio; $1,250 for consulting and then $7,200 and $10,000 for direct mail services through Checkmate of Jackson; about $1300 to StiltonCo of Jackson; and more than $10,000 for postage/direct mail using the Toms River post office. Checkmate also received $21,000 under the council campaign treasury.

Hill’s We The People Donors and Spending

Hill’s 11-day pre-election spending report shows $56,000 raised. The We The People council slate running alongside Hill reported $13,000.

Major donors under the council slate ELEC reports show about $8200 from For the People By the People, address at Wesley Street, Monmouth Beach. The same organization gave $2300 to Hill’s campaign treasury.

Jeremy Grunin also donated to the Hill campaign. He sent a $2600 check and Laura Grunin sent the same. Paula De John of Silverton Funeral Home sent $2600 and Timothy Ryan of Ryan Funeral Homes sent $500. Other donors include Chris Hill, Robert Light, Ronald Rosetto, Rolando Acost, and Mo Hill ($3,000 loan).

Spending includes $7600 for flyers, $8900 more for flyers and $5000 for TV advertising to Gallco Media of Belford. Reported under his council runningmates campaign reporting is spending for $5500 to Endless Wave for video production and $7200 to Girtain Signs for lawn signs.

Rodrick and Slate donors and spending

Rodrick’s campaign spending disbursements show much of his treasury itemized as credit card purchases toward the usual campaign spending costs of mailers, signs and social media.

Funding totals about $21,000. Major donors include $5,000 from ARH Engineering of Hammonton, $4,000 from Fairview Insurance of Verona.

His Conservative Slate running mates’ council campaign shows a $3,000 contribution from Susan Frazier of Sea Girt, who also contributed $3,000 to Rodrick’s treasury, according to the ELEC reports.

On the spending side, Rodrick’s campaign reported about $4200 to Prism Printing of Moorestown, about $400 to Robodial.org, $200 in Facebook ads, and another $2100 for lawn signs.

Barone donors and spending

Barone, the independent Republican council candidate, is running a campaign mostly self-funded, according to her election spending documents. The approximately $10,000 raised was spent on campaign signs and literature through national vendors such as Vistaprint and Custom Ink and local vendors Bob Richards and Richard Ciullo.

To see the complete spending and donor reports for each campaign and candidate, visit the ELEC website and, using the filters, you can search individually or see all primary reports using the fields for 2019, Toms River (Dover Township), and primary. Each are required to file timed reports such as the 11 days leading up to the election and 29 days prior. Spending and donations inside the 11-day lead-up to the primary are called 48-hour reports.