A potentially seismic win for Gilmore – and Spadea – at Thursday’s Ocean GOP convention

I know it’s boorish to quote yourself, Save Jerseyans, but this July 2022 tweet from yours truly came a little closer to being realized on Thursday night:

What happened?

At Thursday’s Ocean County Republican nominating convention, the delegates voted to endorse Donald Trump and other 2024 candidates, but they also voted 143-80 to certify the Toms River Regular Republican Club, one of two warring factions in the county’s second-largest municipality. The Regular Republican Club is aligned with GOP County Chairman George Gilmore, and Gilmore’s candidates dominated at this year’s convention.

Ocean is the state’s largest bucket of Republican primary votes. In 2020, roughly 1 in 7 primary votes came out of the Jersey Shore stronghold.

Unlike 2023, when Chairman Gilmore’s candidates performed with very mixed results at the county convention, the long-time GOP powerbroker appears to have recovered much of his former strength.

Gilmore, who made a comeback in 2022 after being pardoned by Donald Trump following conviction on tax-related charges, is backing NJ 101.5’s Bill Spadea in the 2025 gubernatorial contest. Winning the Ocean line would give Spadea a big piece of the puzzle towards securing the NJGOP nomination especially if he can also win contests in Middlesex and Bergen where the conventions are relatively open and his station’s signal has reach.

Spadea’s rival Jack Ciattarelli is likely to win the lion’s share of the available lines while state Senator Jon Bramnick is a longshot to win many, if any. Spadea’s team is banking of his media profile and an aggressive grassroots strategy to compensate for a lack of enthusiasm for Spadea among the insider crowd which typically dominates county convention votes.

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is SaveJersey.com's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.