TOMS RIVER, NJ – When Toms River Mayor Mo Hill wanted to run for Congress four years ago, it was Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore who said no. When Hill wanted to run for mayor of Toms River two years ago, once again it was George Gilmore who made sure the erratic, untrustworthy and disloyal Hill never got that chance.
Then, Hill got his big break. The FBI, after failing to find evidence against the former GOP Chairman in a long term political corruption investigation, found that Gilmore erroneously filled out a bank loan application. For that, the FBI charged Gilmore and he was later convicted and sentenced to 366 days in prison.
Gilmore, the entire time maintained his innocence and was currently engaged in an appeal of that conviction.
Then, it all went away when last Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump, for whom Gilmore had been a staunch supporter and ally of since the 2016 GOP Primary election granted Gilmore a full pardon.
“He’s been active for 30 years in Republican politics. I don’t think it was a surprise,” Hill said in an interview with the Asbury Park Press. “I was hoping it wouldn’t happen….It is what it is.…I was hoping he would have to go through the regular process, just like anyone else who is convicted.
There’s a good reason for Hill to be upset. He knows if Gilmore returns to his former role, Hill will probably see another elected in office in Ocean County.
Since Gilmore’s departure two years ago, Mo Hill took advantage of the power vacuum and ran for mayor, winning a three way election in 2019, then narrowly defeating his Democrat opponent Jonathan Petro in the 2019 general election. Finally, Hill made it to the show. Hill had formed a new power alliance in Ocean County between himself, interim Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman who is serving out the balance on Gilmore’s remaining term and pay to play patronage boss, New Jersey Assemblyman Greg McGuckin. After leaving the local Republican Club, Hill has been fighting, not only to get back in, but to try to take it over. Three attempts by Hill, Holman, McGuckin and Commission Virginia Haines to take the club by force have failed.
Now, they are trying it again, but with Gilmore officially back in action, it will be interesting to see if the “angry bunch” can make a last ditch effort to control the club in order to control who gets the Republican line in this year’s contentious June Primary.
Hill has come to power by forging new alliances which propelled him and his slate to get into power. Now Hill and his Republican allies have forged an alliance with the Toms River Democrats, hiring Democrat State Senator Vin Gopal’s public relations firm at the township ahead of the upcoming election.
After having two years of free reign, Hill will have to sleep with one political eye open each night as many of his new alliances have reportedly reached out to Gilmore since the GOP leader’s Presidential pardon. It appears all deals could be back on the table in Toms River politics, leaving Mo Hill once again on an island of his own.
Hill ally Haines, who is in her board of commissioner’s chair because of Gilmore was one of the first to kick the GOP chairman when he was down two years ago.