Michael Mastronardy leads George Gilmore, 27 to 20, in contests for Republican county committee seats in Toms River, with about 7 contests still too close to call.
Gilmore, who is seeking to return as Ocean County GOP chairman in an election set for later this month, filed candidates to run off-the-line county committee candidates to run off the line for seats in Toms River.
But 60 candidates running on the organization line and presumed to be for Mastronardy were uncontested.
Frank B. Holman III is not seeking re-election to the post, and the front runner to replace him is Mastronardy, the three term Ocean County Sheriff.
From 1996 to 2019, Gilmore wielded enormous political power as the Ocean Republican boss. He resigned in 2019 following his conviction on federal tax-related charges but was able to avoid beginning a prison term until Donald Trump, on his final day in office, pardoned Gilmore. The pardon does not wipe out nearly $5 million in tax liens and judgments against him.
Toms River was once Gilmore Country, but Mastronardy served as chief of police for 22 years and is hugely popular in New Jersey’s eighth-largest municipality. Mastronardy has the backing of Mayor Mo Hill, the entire Ocean GOP legislative delegation, and all five county commissioners.
Holman, a onetime Gilmore ally, won a May 2019 special election for county chairman. Holman won by 25 votes, 254 to 229, against Gilmore’s hand-selected candidate, Frank Sadeghi.