Prior to yesterday, George Gilmore, the Ocean County Republican Chair was arguably the most significant and influential Republican leader in New Jersey. He ruled with an iron hand the Republican Party in Ocean County, the most solidly Republican county in New Jersey.
A Gilmore endorsement was a necessity for any Republican in New Jersey seeking statewide office. Yet outside Ocean County and the small circle of New Jersey political insiders, few New Jerseyans knew the name George Gilmore.
All this has changed with the news yesterday regarding the federal indictment of George Gilmore on charges of major tax fraud. This now becomes the major New Jersey political scandal.
This will not be limited to an Ocean County story: the New Jersey political media will make sure of that. George Gilmore will now become a name with a major negative connotation known throughout the state.
Gilmore is entitled to the legal presumption of innocence. In the political court of public opinion, however, no such presumption exists. However unfair it may be, a political figure like George Gilmore will be presumed to be guilty until vindicated by a finding of “not guilty” by a jury.
The major immediate victim, other than Gilmore himself, is the Republican Party of New Jersey. New Jersey Democratic political media strategists doubtless are already this morning scripting messages and commercials featuring Donald Trump and George Gilmore, himself an enthusiastic Trump supporter, as the faces of the Republican Party of New Jersey.