TOMS RIVER, NJ – A huge political battle is brewing in Toms River within the Ocean County Republican Party as Chairman Frank Holman prepares to defend his turf against former Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore. Energized with a pardon from President Donald J. Trump, Gilmore is ready to take back what was his, according to Pat O’melia, host of the Hudson Group’s “Toms River Show”.
Who’s going to win the war? O’melia says his money is on Gilmore.
“There is a political war simmering, probably past simmering, it might be starting to boil with the forces of Frank Holman…and George Gilmore,” O’Melia said. “If had to bet, [Gilmore] will be the new chairman of the Ocean County GOP.”
“He is going to have a big say in the makeup of how the next commissioner board will be going forward. I know Frank Holman would like to keep control, I just don’t see that happening with George Gilmore,” O’Melia said. “Gilmore, I understand him, there’s going to be some tension and in Toms River too.”
O’melia’s comments are telling because, in 2020, his firm was paid thousands of dollars to create promotional political propaganda videos for Holman and Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill. Hill is also a staunch opponent of Gilmore, calling Trump’s pardon of the former chairman a mistake, saying he wished the formed chairman served time in jail.
Both Holman and Hill are planning another coup of the Toms River Republican Club, with political allies Commissioner Virginia Haines, New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin and Toms River lawyer “Little Bobbie” Shea, son of Robert C. Shea, who heads the pay to play law firm R.C. Shea and Associates.
Their coup of the club is not expected to succeed and it will be the third time the group has failed to forcibly take over the Republican party in Toms River.
The future looks bleak for Holman and his dwindling circle of political allies, mostly pay to play professionals who look to the chairman for a steady supply of taxpayer-funded contracts, but history shows those professional companies have no allegiance to anyone and will turn on Holman the minute they believe Gilmore will be the next chairman.
That leaves Holman with a small group of cheerleaders that include Shea, Haines, McGuckin, attorney Jerry Dasti, Jackson Mayor Michael Reina, and a few stragglers in Toms River and Jackson.
All thought Gilmore wasn’t coming back to politics and all made moves against Gilmore in the past year. As Holman’s forces dwindle, many in Holman’s camp are already showing signs of submission to Gilmore as Gilmore is rebuilding his base across the county.
While this year’s elections at the County and municipal level in Toms River will no doubt be a battle for the ages, next year Holman and Gilmore are expected to battle head to head for the Chairman’s seat. At this point, Holman can concede early and negotiate a peace settlement that allows him to maintain at least some of his $6,000,000 in annual contracts he receives from municipalities.
Another pay-to-play warrior in Holman’s army that stands to lose big time is Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin. It wasn’t long after Gilmore’s departure that McGuckin seized the opportunity to dethrone Gilmore, taking most of the legal work in Ocean County for himself, amassing a nearly $4,000,000 annual take.
Now, McGuckin stands to lose at least half of that if Gilmore prevails over Holman. McGuckin, who is the common denominator in most of the animosity and split within the Ocean County GOP stands to be the biggest loser in the war if Holman concedes or is defeated by Gilmore, which most feel is not if, but when.
McGuckin also stands to lose his seat in the New Jersey Assembly as forces are in motion to challenge him in the June primary election. At the end of the day, McGuckin stands to lose everything.