TOMS RIVER, NJ – Soured by their defeat at the hands of Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore, allies backed by New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin this week announced they are seeking to form a new Ocean County Republican Party.
That party, which has not yet been officially registered with the state is expected to house GOP dissidents who refuse to unite under the banner of newly-re-elected GOP Chairman George Gilmore.
Greg McGuckin has a lot to lose. He was one of Gilmore’s biggest foes over the past three years while Frank B. Holman slept at the wheel as head of the Ocean County GOP. Under Holman’s, for lack of better words, leadership, the state’s once most powerful Republican organization fell into civil war and disarray.
Holman and McGuckin purged anyone who even dared mention the name “George Gilmore” during the tumultuous years where the club for the first time in decades lost floor battles for important seats such as U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate to opposition forces.
More than political embarrassment, Gilmore’s win casts a dark cloud on McGuckin’s future in politics. McGuckin is up for re-election as an assemblyman in Ocean County and insiders are already throwing names out to replace McGuckin. McGuckin on the other hand feels he is next in line to be the Senator representing New Jersey’s 10th district in Trenton.
Gilmore stands in his way. As the chairman of the party, Gilmore has the ability to block McGuckin’s promotion and even remove him from the party line next year in his current role as Assemblyman.
Then there’s the money. McGuckin’s law firm, Dasti, Murphy and McGuckin were the sole pillagers of Gilmore’s municipal accounts across the county. If Gilmore successfully navigates elections in Jackson and Manchester this November, he can begin to chip away at the McGuckin firm’s nearly $2,000,000 in annual pay-to-play public contracts and steer those contracts to party-aligned law firms who have already come back under the Gilmore umbrella. It is rumored that McGuckin and Dasti are supporting a political ticket in opposition of the Jackson Republican Club. That ticket is being run by Jackson bodega queen Clara Glory.
Glory was ousted from the Jackson Republican Committee this past July and has seen her influence and power slip quickly in the months since.
Now, the Republican party appears to be aligning behind Gilmore in Jackson. That puts McGuckin in a bad spot as he has pledged his allegiance to Glory, but works for her opponent, Mayor Michael Reina, and the township of Jackson as the township’s chief legal counsel. Shortly before losing the chairman’s election in July, McGuckin made sure to funnel $5,000 to support Glory’s political candidates in November.
Under threat of a lawsuit by Gilmore, Glory returned that money to the Ocean County GOP.
If Gilmore wins in Jackson and Manchester, it could also mean the end of McGuckin’s large pay-to-play legal contracts and appointments in those towns in January.
McGuckin has every reason to want to form a new Republican party and every reason revolves around his own self-interests. Aside from McGuckin, most other Ocean County and state-level Republicans in the county have dismissed McGuckin’s threat to start a new party as sheer nonsense.
Today, McGuckin lashed out at Gilmore after being served with a lawsuit alleging he misappropriated $20,000 in county GOP funds in the hours before Sheriff Mastronardy lost his election against Gilmore to become the next chairman of the once powerful and influential party.
Last week, Gilmore flexed his political muscles, announcing he raised $140,000 at a fundraiser for Senator Robert Singer and has accumulated $250,000 in fundraising since returning to power in July, far shadowing the fundraising abilities of the McGuckin faction of the party.
Then there’s the Mo Hill factor. Gilmore appears to be aligning behind Toms River Councilman Daniel Rodrick a populist councilman who has resisted Toms River Mayor Mo Hill’s push to turn the shore community into the next major New Jersey city.
If Rodrick defeats Hill in 2023, it would mean more financial bad news for McGuckin who serves as the township’s Director of Public Law, a position created specifically for McGuckin by Hill.
Then there’s also the question of McGuckin’s own tax status. McGuckin had IRS liens placed against his home for unpaid income taxes. McGuckin eventually entered into a payment plan to pay his delinquent tax debt, but the status of that tax debt is unknown at this time.
He owed the IRS more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes and in 2006, had to suspend his own political campaign because of the multiple liens.
Just two months ago, McGuckin was the top dog of the Ocean County GOP, but an obscure party election loss could spell the end of Greg McGuckin in Ocean County and state politics over the next few years.