Haines and Kelly gain Ocean GOP endorsement for re-election as county commissioners
Two veteran Ocean County commissioners scored lopsided victories to win the Republican organizing line tonight.
Virginia Haines received 152 votes and Jack Kelly won 149, easily beating Toms River School Board member Ashley Lamb, who got 37 votes.
Lamb had indicated that she was in the running to oppose Haines only, but Kelly declined the opportunity to become the convention’s pick by acclamation and voluntarily participated in the vote.
Two other candidates, Jackson City Councilman Andrew Kern and former Brick Councilman Michael Thulen, Sr., dropped out of the race after the GOP nominating committee backed Haines and Kelly.
Sheriff Michael Mastronardy had no opposition. He is the heavy favorite to become Ocean County’s new Republican chairman in June when incumbent Frank Holman retires.
Kelly was first elected in 1992 and Haines was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2016.
A former Eagleswood mayor, Kelly and James Lacey ousted Democrats Paul Brush and Mark Troncone, the last two Democrats to win a countywide election in Ocean County, by about 15,000 votes in 1992.
Haines has served as county commissioner since 2016 and is only the second woman to hold elected office in the county. She served as an aide to then-Assembler Bob Singer (R-Lakewood) and as Assembly Clerk before winning a state Assembly seat in the 1991 GOP election wave. later resigned from the Assembly when Governor Christine Todd Whitman named her executive director of the New Jersey Lottery. Haines is the Republican National Committee member from New Jersey.
A salon and flower shop owner, Lamb was elected to the Toms River School Board in 2020. She finished second in a field of nine candidates for two seats, finishing with 2,439 votes ahead of fourth-placed Rachel Remelgado. Her husband, Justin Lamb, is a councilor for Toms River.