News Transcript – BY KATHY BARATTA and MARK ROSMAN
There will be a Republican primary in Manalapan in June as four candidates seek the nod to run for two seats on the Township Committee in the November general election.
As previously announced, Ryan Green and William Garcia were nominated by the Manalapan Republican Party to run for a pair of three-year terms. They will run under the banner of the Monmouth County Republican Organization.
On April 7, which was the deadline for candidates associated with a party to file to run, Kalman “Butch” Budai Jr. and Steven Johnson filed paperwork with the Township Clerk’s Office to run under the banner of Manalapan Republicans.
The decision by Budai and Johnson to run for the committee appears to confirm behind-the-scenes maneuvers that have been taking place in Manalapan over the past week and signals a split in the Manalapan Republican Party.
Budai and Johnson were unsuccessful in their bids two weeks ago to secure the nomination of the Manalapan Republican Party to run for the Township Committee.
Municipal Clerk Rose Ann Weeden said Budai and Johnson stated their desire to have their own line on the ballot, and said they also filed candidates to seek seats on the Manalapan Republican County Committee.
The county committee is made up of residents from each voting district in the municipality and helps to select individuals to run for office.
Neither Budai nor Johnson returned messages left by the News Transcript over the weekend of April 5-6. The News Transcript was calling to ask if they were planning to force a showdown among Republican voters in the June primary.
Several Republicans confirmed to the News Transcript over the weekend that they had been approached by individuals who asked them to start a breakaway faction of Republicans.
Richard Frenkiel and his wife, Maizie, said they were solicited for membership in the new organization, but declined to join.
Richard Frenkiel is a former member of the Township Committee who served as mayor during his term of office. Both are members of the Manalapan Republican County Committee.
Maizie Frenkiel said her decision not to leave the regular Republican organization was an easy one because not only was the Manalapan Republican Party’s strength being jeopardized, she also felt the matter spoke to the loyalty of Manalapan’s registered Republicans.
“I hate to see the party split. It’s never a good thing to split the party. I understand there have been disagreements, but I wish they (reform Republican candidates) would simply run in a primary rather than starting a new party,” she said.
“I was approached to join (the Manalapan Reform Republican Party) by another (regular Republican) county committee person and I refused. I have been a member of the regular Republican Party for 30 years and a county committee person for just as long. I didn’t think it was appropriate to switch. I told them it’s a matter of loyalty,” she said.
Richard Frenkiel offered his thoughts on the idea of forming a new Republican faction, saying, “If people formed a new party every time there was a disagreement there wouldn’t be a party.”
Manalapan resident and political gadfly Rhoda Chodosh, who is a regular attendee at Township Committee meetings, has been aManalapan Republican County Committee member for two years. Chodosh said she was approached by a member of the county committee in an effort to get her to join the reform faction.
She said she refused the offer, saying her reason for doing so was also about party loyalty.
“I’m staying where I am because I want strong Republicans in Manalapan. Being on the county committee is not only about the municipal level. It’s more than just the one – I look at the whole, the greater good of the party.”
Manalapan Republican Party Chairman Stephen McEnery said, “The Republican Party is made up of individuals who want to work toward making Manalapan a better place for their families.Whenever a splinter group forms, chaos develops and family focus disappears. Friends and neighbors start to distrust each other and sometimes become enemies. It has happened in Howell,Marlboro,Wall and other towns that have lost their focus.When two parties debate on issues it’s about beliefs. When a party splits it’s not about beliefs, it’s about ego.
“Ego exists through all levels of politics, but when it becomes just about ego with little regard for the township, the residents need to reject that behavior. When people such as Butch Budai, who was the low vote-getter at our convention, uses his position as a party boss to bring people together for him, it’s called a gang, not a party.
“The Republican County Committee in Manalapan had an election for candidates and some people lost. Such is life. But this is not Steve McEnery’s party, it’s simply the Republican Party of Manalapan. It was here long before I was elected chairman and it will be here long after I’m gone.”