CURLEY: READY FOR HIS CLOSEUP

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Will John Curley’s firebrand personality fly with Monmouth County Republican powerbrokers?

The Red Bank councilman will find out tomorrow when he goes before the party’s screening committee in a bid to be one of two nominees to run for county freeholder n November.

Five others are also scheduled to participate in the beauty pageant at party HQ in Freehold, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Curley’s an acknowledged ideological lane-changer who’s bounced back and forth between the two major parties several times since young adulthood in Shrewsbury. He was elected to the Red Bank council as a Democrat in 2003 before splitting, quite publicly and often, with his former patron, then-Mayor Ed McKenna.

And even as a registered Republican, he has acknowledged he wears the label as something of a badge of political necessity.

As a result, Curley says he has only passing acquaintance with GOP county chairman Adam Puharic and many of the 20 to 25 screening committee members he’ll be making a three-minute presentation to before the session is opened up for questions.

Still, “I’m actually pretty relaxed,” he told redbankgreen today. “You know, I have a great deal of confidence in myself.”

One of the Freeholder seats up for grabs is now held by Director William Barham, a Republican from Monmouth Beach, who’s not seeking re-election. The other now belongs to Lillian G. Burry, a Republican who’s seeking a third term.

In addition to Burry, the others participating tomorrow, according to the Press, are Holmdel Mayor Serena DiMaso, Freehold Township Zoning Board member Stephen Walsh, former Howell Planning Board member Russ Bohlin and Neptune resident Eileen Kean, director of government affairs for the Medical Society of New Jersey.

Unlike the Democrats, who simply hold a convention (scheduled for March 8 in Atlantic Highlands) to choose their candidates, the Republicans committee…

can forward endorsements for one or both open freeholder seats to delegates at the party convention, scheduled for March 26 at the Middletown Veterans of Foreign Wars post, Puharic said.

Curley tells us he’d prefer to participate in a convention. “I think that would bode well for someone like myself” who has a broad, “man-of-the-people” appeal, he says.

But he says he’s been meeting with Republicans in the southern part of the county and along the coast recently, and “I really have gotten some strong support. People like what I have been saying” about zero-based budgeting, getting rid of cronyism and other issues.

If he’s selected, he won’t also run for Red Bank council, where his term ends later this year, Curley says. But if he’s kicked to the curb by the county nabobs, he’ll be back knocking on doors in Red Bank this summer to hold onto his borough seat, Curley says.

More immediately, though, to bolster his case on Saturday, Curley might want to hand out copies of a profile of himself that appears in this week’s Bayshore Courier.

Some of the unattributed phrases used in the article to describe him:

“unabashedly independent”

“his true allegiance lies with the public”

“consistently defended borough residents from the often-nefarious intentions of public officials”

“advocating for unadulterated morality in county government”

“after being lynched on Broad Street, rose from the dead and started a new worldwide religion”

Actually, we made up one of those. Guess which one.

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