Lisella and Blumenthal Take Primary
Endorsed Republicans beat out challenger, will run for Committee in November
Incumbent Martin Lisella and running mate Maxine Blumenthal were the top vote-getters in the Republican primary for Barnegat Township Committee, beating out challenger Philip J. Checchia by a wide margin, according to poll numbers released by the Office of the Ocean County Clerk.
According to the county clerk's website, Lisella received 620 votes and Blumenthal 591, which got them 46 and 44 percent of the vote, respectively. Checchia took 133 votes, or 10 percent.
Incumbent Democrat Leonard Morano and Michael P. Howard ran uncontested in the Democratic primary. Morano received 302 votes while Howard received 288.
Local blogger Howard Effron, who contributes to Patch, declared he would run as an independent in November.
Outside the Republican victory party at Spiaggia e Luna restaurant tonight, Lisella and Blumenthal said they were pleased with the results of the primary.
“The results, I think, are pretty much what we anticipated,” Blumenthal said. “The big thing now is to get everyone to understand what it is we have to offer them.”
They come into the general race with a willingness to put in the hours required to make the township tick, she said. “What we have is a work ethic. We’re ready.”
Ready indeed. Blumenthal said she’d literally been training in for all the door-to-door campaigning that she knows she’ll be doing. “I got in shape for it. I’m up to three miles a day,” she said. “Campaigning is a grueling process.”
Lisella said he felt the numbers boded well for him and his running mate.
“Maxine and I got the same amount of votes,” he said. “The majority of people are OK with us.”
His platform will be in line with the same one he ran on his first time around, he said: safety in the township, a good education system and a responsible budget. Come August, he said, they’ll be pushing that message.
The preliminary round is done, Lisella said. “Now we have to win the World Series.”
Lisella and Blumenthal’s opponent, Phil Checchia, who ran without the blessing of the local Republican club, joined the winning candidates, the mayor and Committee members outside the restaurant Tuesday night.
Checchia, frequently a vocal critic of the sitting Committee, said he was disappointed with what he saw as a low voter turnout, but he was prepared to make good on a promise to throw his support behind the Republican candidates who beat him, as long as they continued to work for a lean budget.
“I ran because I believe in the government we have – of, for and by the people,” Checchia said. “I’m a Republican. I support Republicans. I can’t do anything other than that.”
Leonard Morano also joined the Republicans to celebrate the close of the primary race. He had no problem with being the lone Democrat at the downtown party, he said. There are plenty of friendships in Barnegat that cross party lines.
"When everyting’s over, you should still be friends," he said.