George Gilmore, the Ocean County Republican chairman and a well-connected and savvy political insider, has joined Optimus Partners, a top New Jersey lobbying firm run by Jeff Michaels and Phil Norcross.
Gilmore will join the firm as a senior advisor next month.
“George is one of the leading community and political leaders in New Jersey, serving as Chairman of the Ocean County Republican Organization for more than 30 years,” Michaels stated. “He has long been considered one of the most effective and influential strategists of either political party in New Jersey.”
Michaels said that Gilmore would serve as an outside consultant on an exclusive basis.
Norcross said that Gilmore “brings to Optimus valued and important insights and experience in policy development and strategy, public outreach, and building stakeholder and community support.”
“He will help Optimus broaden its state-wide relationships and add further talent and experience to our already deep bench to better serve our clients,” he said.
Gilmore served as Ocean County GOP chairman from 1996 to 2019 and was returned to the post last year after a close contest with Michael Mastronardy, the county sheriff.
“I am excited to work with Optimus Partners, which has a stellar reputation on both sides of the political spectrum,” Gilmore stated. “Optimus is known for helping clients think many steps ahead and offers unparalleled strategic advice and counsel that helps clients put points on the board.”
If necessary, Gilmore is prepared to register as a lobbyist with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Two Gilmore allies are expected to join the legislature next year from the Ocean County-based 9th district: Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato as a state senator and Stafford Mayor Greg Myhre as an assemblyman. The 9th district is among the most Republican in the state.
Michaels served as chief of staff to Gov. Donald DiFrancesco from 2001 to 2002. He served as executive director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee and executive director of the Senate Majority Office while DiFrancesco was Senate President. Michaels began his political career in 1985, at age 20, when he scored an off-the-line victory for a Republican county committee seat in Livingston’s 14th district. He defeated Michael DeFinis by two votes, 32 to 30, running with the slogan “Tom Kean Republican” in a district that was adjacent to the one Gov. Kean resided in.
In addition to Optimus Partners, Norcross is the managing partner at Parker McCay, one of South Jersey’s most politically influential law firms. He is the brother of Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) and Connor Strong & Buckalew CEO George E. Norcross III.
Karen Elkis, a senior vice president at Optimus, started out as an aide to Assemblyman Martin Herman (D-Mickleton) in the 3rd district. She late ran South Jersey offices for U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg, Jon Corzine, and Bob Menendez, and was chief of staff in the Assembly Majority Office.