By JOHN T. WARD
Little Silver Mayor Bob Neff easily won the first, not to mention oddest, Republican primary the borough has seen in decades Tuesday.
By more than a 2-1 margin, Neff held off a challenge from first-time candidate Rick Brandt in a race in that saw Brandt banned from firehouses and schools over his campaign’s unauthorized use of photos.
A tally from borough hall put Neff at 1,092 votes to 376 for Brandt.
The results are unofficial. Under a new vote-by-mail law, mailed ballots received by the Monmouth County Board of Election up to 48 hours after close of the polls may be are counted, provided the ballot is postmarked by Election Day.
Still, Brandt conceded the loss.
“I put in a lot of work. We didn’t get enough votes,” he told redbankgreen via text. “Proud of the effort!”
The borough Democrats had no candidates for either mayor or council in the primary, all but assuring that Neff will win a third term in the November general election.
Neff’s running mates, incumbent council members Corrine Thygeson and Don Galante, were unopposed, as Brandt did not field a slate.
At an election night party at Galante’s home, Neff said the race had many residents in the town “anxious.” A glut of campaign signs, some of them uncharacteristically large, also had residents eager to see them go.
Over the course of the campaign, Brandt repeatedly drew fire from local organizations over his unauthorized use of photos in his campaign. He was suspended by the volunteer fire department; admonished by historical preservationists; and banned by Superintendent Carolyn Kossack from “attending school or district sponsored events… with our children,” according to emails obtained by redbankgreen.
Brandt claimed last week that his candidacy had uncovered “an underbelly of darker, manipulative, and unscrupulous political behavior” in Little Silver politics.
Local GOP Chairman Stuart Van Winkle said no one he knew could recall the party having had a primary contest in the past 50 years.