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George Gilmore expects ‘hiccups’ in bid to reunite NJ’s most powerful county GOP

The first case began immediately after Gilmore’s election Thursday night, when the Ocean County GOP’s website went down.

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Following an unexpected victory this week that put him back in the post he held for decades before quitting in 2019 with three federal tax convictions hanging over his head, George Gilmore wants to bring the severely divided Ocean County GOP together.

In an interview on Monday, four days after narrowly defeating Sheriff Michael Mastronardy to succeed retiring chair Frank Holman III for a four-year term, Gilmore said, “I will be successful in bringing the organization back together.” There will be a few bumps.

The Ocean County GOP’s website went down shortly after Gilmore’s victory on Thursday night, signaling the start of the first instance of the flu. Gilmore accuses the party’s former executive director Pat Lane of keeping it offline.

The removal of several objects from the county GOP offices in the dead of night by Lane and County Commissioner Virginia Haines, who had opposed Gilmore’s victory, raised his suspicions immediately after the election.

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“Why would you do that at 11:00 p.m.? Why don’t you provide notice? Gilmore remarked. “They took the website offline. All emails that belonged to the company were destroyed. All gone. Why do that?

Gilmore added that on the day of the chair election, money was transferred from the Ocean County GOP account to Mastronardy and Haines’ campaign accounts, leaving the party account with just $1,900. Unknown amounts were taken out, but according to Gilmore, when there are no elections, the organization’s operating costs average $15,000 each month.

Haines claimed to have taken Lane to the GOP headquarters so they could remove some of their personal belongings, including Holman’s computer. She said that they didn’t remove any of the organization’s property.

Haines said that Lane’s use of her credit card to pay for the website caused it to go offline.

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Haines said that she was unaware of any emails that had been erased and that “she deleted just what was being charged to her credit card.”

Haines referred inquiries to her campaign treasurer, who did not promptly return a phone call requesting comment. Haines claimed to be unaware of the transfer of campaign cash.

The use of middlemen to get in touch with Lane was fruitless.

Additionally, Gilmore has issues to resolve that go far beyond the boundaries of the county. He accuses the state’s Republican chair, Bob Hugin, and the party’s previous gubernatorial contender, Jack Ciattarelli, of lobbying against his election.

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Gilmore stated, “I know Ciattarelli made phone calls against me because others let me know they received them. I had heard previously that Hugin was trying to undermine me. This is life.

The 73-year-old Gilmore is undergoing a spectacular political comeback after former President Trump pardoned him ahead of his sentence for three offenses for not paying his law firm’s payroll taxes and lying on a bank loan application on his last day in office. Bill Stepien, who served as Trump’s campaign manager and whom Gilmore continued to hire through a PAC while Stepien suffered political repercussions from the Bridgegate affair, is largely responsible for Gilmore’s conviction.

Gilmore takes over a county party that, despite having a fractious leadership, is nevertheless the most effective Republican county organization in New Jersey. Massive turnout in Ocean County helped elect former Governor Chris Christie and made the most recent governor race much tighter than most anticipated; Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy narrowly won reelection.

Gilmore has taken back the role he held prior to his legal issues: that of a power broker, whose support will be greatly sought after by any Republican seeking the nomination for governor, let alone in Ocean County. Ciattarelli has additionally declared his willingness to run for governor once more in 2025.

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The triumph of Gilmore was immediately viewed as a devastating setback for Ciattarelli. Gilmore’s backing of Kim Guadagno, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, helped her defeat Ciattarelli for the Republican primary when she first ran for governor in 2017. Additionally, in an unsuccessful attempt to secure Phil Rizzo matching funds from the state to better compete with Ciattarelli, Gilmore assisted in raising money for him during the Republican gubernatorial primary last year. Rizzo was a far-right challenger to Ciattarelli. Eric Arpert, Ciattarelli’s former campaign manager, gave Mastronardy advice prior to Thursday’s election for Ocean County GOP chair.

About 30 minutes after the election was completed, Ciattarelli called to congratulate me on winning, according to Gilmore. I said I’d be pleased to meet with him, and he agreed. I’m anticipating hearing from him this week to set up a meeting. Gilmore claimed Ciattarelli was trying to “secure the endorsement” of the Ocean County GOP in 2025 by backing Mastronardy.

Gilmore didn’t elaborate on how he believed Hugin had conspired against him. After the chair election, he claimed that he proceeded to a restaurant in Toms River where Mastronardy supporters had gathered as well for what Gilmore described as “a triumph celebration had turned out to be a wake.” Gilmore spotted Hugin in his car there, in the parking lot. “When he noticed me, he rolled down his window. Congratulations, he said before withdrawing.

“All I know is that he was trying to hurt me… He was obviously in favor of Mastronardy, Gilmore said. I believe the state chair should maintain impartiality. He shouldn’t participate in races for country chair, in my opinion.

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Hugin said he was not involved in the election and made no calls on Mastronardy’s behalf in a phone interview. He claimed that Mastronardy invited him, thus that is why he attended the party.

Hugin declared, “Sheriff Mastronardy and George Gilmore both have my utmost regard. If someone doesn’t explicitly state what they’re saying, it’s difficult to answer.

Hugin clarified that he wasn’t attempting to avoid Gilmore, but rather was in a hurry to leave because the event started longer than expected and his wife was expecting him to get home.

There are also conflicts with local elected officials. Gilmore pointed out that the majority of the party’s county and state elected leaders had opposed him or, at the very least, signed a statement endorsing Mastronardy.

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