Though it appears the Ocean County Republican organization is backing an out-of-town candidate for U.S. Congress in the third congressional district, Toms River Councilman Maurice "Mo" Hill has now received the backing of the county's two largest municipal GOP contingents.
The Brick Township Republicans voted Monday night to back Hill, a move that the Toms River Republicans had already made.
PolitickerNJ.com has reported that the county organization is backing former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur to run for the seat of exiting Rep. Jon Runyan.
The face-off between Hill, a local canddiate, and MacArthur, who said he will move to Ocean County full time to run for the seat, has reportedly created a rift within county GOP circles. The race has also attracted the attention of former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who recently moved to Lavallette in hopes of taking the nomination.
Hill, on Monday, told PolitickerNJ.com that “they’ll have to take me out kicking and screaming,” because he would not quit the race.
In an e-mail to Patch Monday night, Hill said he was feeling "confident" he would be able to win the party's backing at the county Republican organization's convention, which is set for March 19.
"I feel that I have the experience, knowledge and leadership to win the election in November and be an effective representative in Washington," he said.
Hill, who runs a dentistry practice in Brick, is also a retired U.S. Navy rear admiral who served for 35 years. He has served on the Toms River Township council for 11 years, including a past role as council president.
The support of the Brick and Toms River GOP organizations could make Hill a formidable contender against the well-funded MacArthur at the party convention. The two towns represent half of Ocean County's voters.
Whoever ultimately receives the Republican nomination for the seat will be an instant favorite in the general election. Based on the 2010 U.S. Census, the third district dropped Democrat-leaning Cherry Hill in favor of Republican-leaning Brick.