Home>Campaigns>George Gilmore wins race for Ocean GOP Chairman by 13 votes

Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore on the night of his return to his part post on July 7, 2022. (Photo: George Christopher for the New Jersey Globe).

George Gilmore wins race for Ocean GOP Chairman by 13 votes

Former party chairman stages stunning comeback

By George Christopher and David Wildstein, July 07 2022 8:24 pm

George Gilmore will return to the helm of the state’s most powerful Republican organization, winning back his job as Ocean County Republican Chairman by seven votes, 333 to 320, a 50.5%-49.5% margin against Sheriff Michael Mastronardy.

Gilmore had sought a comeback to the post he held from 1996 to 2019 before a conviction on federal tax-related charges triggered his resignation.

“This was a victory for the people tonight,” Gilmore said.

Frank B. Holman III, who succeeded Gilmore in 2019,  endorsed Mastronardy, along with all five county commissioners and the Ocean Republican legislative delegation.

The return of the 71-year-old Gilmore could trigger considerable changes over the next few years, with some GOP legislators and county commissioners now facing the possible loss of the organization line.

After a pair of felony convictions, Gilmore received a pardon from President Donald Trump before he served any jail time and has since become a thorn in the side of the Ocean County Republican establishment, backing challengers to local Republican incumbents and fundraising for a rival Republican organization.  But he wielded immense power during his 23 years as county chairman, and he still had wide support, including some from GOP officials who endorsed Mastronardy.

His return to the county chairman post could be the biggest political story of 2022, at least so far.

Some Republican legislators and county commissioners may now face difficulties in party support over the next few years, although Gilmore has said that was not true.

Tonight’s race is also a precursor to the 2025 gubernatorial primary.  Mastronardy has support from allies of  Jac Ciattarelli, while Gilmore backed Phil Rizzo for the nomination last year.

The race against Mastronardy, once a key ally and the 22-year Toms River police chief, was especially bitter.

“I will give him a call,” Gilmore told the New Jersey Globe.  “Whether he accepts the call or not I don’t know.”

Gilmore said he will immediately begin the task of uniting the party.

“I’m gonna start tomorrow having regional meetings,” he said.  “Communication is the key”

Gilmore had a bumpy road following his conviction.

Holman, the longtime party treasurer and son of former GOP State Chairman Frank Holman, won a special election in 2019 by 24 votes against Gilmore’s handpicked candidate, developer Frank Sadeghi.

In the 2019 Toms River mayoral primary, off-the-line candidate Mo Hill defeated Gilmore’s candidate, former Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato.

Last year, the Republican Club controlled by Gilmore was decertified and a new one led by Holman’s allies took control.

Ocean County is the most Republican county in the state, regularly giving statewide Republican candidates huge margins and sending all-Republican delegations to the state legislature. In last year’s gubernatorial election, Republican Ciattarelli carried Ocean County by a whopping 34 points, winning 145,756 votes to Gov. Phil Murphy’s 68,615.

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