JACKSON TOWNSHIP,NJ-In a failed attempt to take over Jackson Township, state Democrats sunk over $50,000 into the campaign of Tracie Yostpille, the Vice President of the Monmouth County branch of the NJEA. $3,000 in donations to Yostpille in her campaign against Republican incumbent Mayor Michael Reina came from employees of a high-powered law firm run by former Democrat Governor Jim Florio and New Jersey GOP President Doug Steinhardt.
Former failed Jackson Township candidate Ray Cattonar, operating a Jackson Taxpayer Alliance political action committee sunk nearly $7,000 into the failed campaign for Yostpille.
Not everyone in the Democrat party came out losers in the failed attempt to control the township, Robyn Gedrich, the “Bernie Sanders Tinder Girl”, of Brick, raked in $3,000 for her work on the campaign.
The bulk of the campaign funds went into the printing and mailing of numerous campaign postcards, Facebook advertising and nearly $10,000 in postage fees to the United States Postal Service.
The only bright spot in the entire campaign election finance report filed by Gedrich was a $120 purchase of goodness from Delicious Orchards.
In the end, the campaign, led by former Lakewood Township Democrat County Committeeman Mitch Seim lost the election in a big way, nearly 3 to 1 to Reina and his team of political newcomers, Andy Kern and Alex Sauickie.
Losing in such a big way in Jackson and Howell raises new questions for the “Blue Wave” in Ocean County. Will Democrat powerbrokers leave critical elections in 2019 in Brick and Toms River in Seim’s hands as they have done in recent years.
Despite making huge gains in Congress, the New Jersey Democrat Party is split heading into 2019 as rival factions of moderate Democrats battle the progressive movement led by Governor Phil Murphy and managed locally by Seim. To make matters worse, Democrats under the flailing leadership of Murphy suffered in the polls in Ocean County and Monmouth County.
Seim and the Jersey Democrats could make a power play to finish what they started in Toms River, where the political consultant won 3 out of 4 seats in 2019 by operating a similar misleading campaign, blaming Republicans for what the campaigns loosely referred to a “Jewish threat” from Lakewood in the form of over development and expansion. This year, Seim and the Democrats could complete their campaign to control both the mayoral seat and gain a majority on the township council to control Toms River.
In 2017, Seim played upon the fears of Toms River residents, falsely blaming Republicans and his campaign went unchecked by the local Republicans. In 2018, Seim ran the same cut-and-paste campaign in Jackson, but voters there saw through the misleading mailers and voted against his candidates.
Another loser in the Jackson election was Governor Phil Murphy, who has since pulled out of a multi-million dollar deal to relocate his flailing Sky Blue FC soccer club to Jackson. After losing the election, and thus local control of the planning and zoning board, Murphy pulled out of the project, citing environmental concerns.
In Brick, the blue wave that allowed Seim to win a clean sweep also shows signs of failing as infighting has torn apart the Brick Democrats. So much so, the Democrats in Brick hosted two holiday parties, one run by Mayor Ducey and his progressive colleagues and another run by the more moderate Brick Township Democrat Club…on the same night…at the same time, in an attempt to compete with each other.
The future looks bleak for Seim and his fellow Democrats in Ocean County heading into 2019. Whether or not state Democrats are willing to bankroll local campaigns in Ocean County after solid losses in 2018 will remain to be seen. The losses could signal the beginning of the end for Seim’s political ambitions to gain control of towns surrounding Lakewood, including Toms River, Brick, Jackson and Howell.