George Gilmore, pardoned by Trump, re-elected GOP chairman

Republican insiders in New Jersey’s Deepest Red County have narrowly chosen a felon pardoned by President Trump to lead their party once again.

George Gilmore’s political comeback reached a major milestone on Thursday night when he was re-elected as head of the Ocean County Republican committee.

He defeated Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy by a vote of 333 to 320 to return to the position he held from 1996 to 2019. Frank B. Holman III, Gilmore’s successor, had backed Gilmore’s candidacy. Mastronadry.

Gilmore, 71, quit when he was charged with federal tax evasion and owed more than $1.5 million while spending lavishly on vacations and multiple homes.

He faced a six-count indictment accusing him of tax evasion from 2013 to 2015, filing false tax returns in 2013 and 2014, non-payment of payroll taxes in 2016 and misrepresentation on a 2015 loan application to Ocean First Bank.

A jury found Gilmore guilty only of payroll taxes and loan application fees. He was acquitted of filing false tax returns while the jury was deadlocked on the tax evasion charges. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison although he never served his sentence: Trump pardoned him while he remained free on appeal.

Former governors from both parties – Chris Christie, Jim Florio, Jim McGreevey and Donald DiFrancisco – have lobbied for the president’s favor. Commuting Gilmore’s sentence, Trump wrote, “Mr. Gilmore made significant civic contributions during his career in New Jersey.”

A divided party

Gilmore must now muster a split county party that could be seen as symbolic of the Republican Party as a whole: one that supports Trump and another that does not.

“It’s America in Ocean County again,” Gilmore told supporters after his win, echoing Trump’s favorite phrase, according to Asbury Park Press.

Some county political observers believe Gilmore still holds the power he held before his conviction, which will better serve the county and increase the number of newcomers to the county. Ocean County is the most Republican of all New Jersey counties.

Mastronardy had never run for political office before beyond sheriff. The law enforcement veteran had the support of the entire Ocean County Board of Commissioners and gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli.

Gilmore supported Phil Rizzo in the 2019 GOP gubernatorial race for governor won by Ciattarelli.

Gilmore told the NJ Globe he would begin holding “regional meetings” to bring the county party together.

Photo courtesy of Jersey Shore Online

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Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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