As of 3:30 this afternoon, Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore had not talked to Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean Twp.). But when he does, he will ask Van Pelt to resign.
“I believe that Mr. Van Pelt, in his own best interest and in the interest of his family, should resign. When I speak with Mr. Van Pelt, I will ask him to step down not only as an assemblyman but as a candidate for Assembly,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore said that if Van Pelt believes the charges are erroneous, he should devote himself to fighting them instead of running for reelection.
“We need to have a candidate on the ballot who doesn’t have a cloud over their head,’ he said.
Because the arrest was unexpected, Gilmore said he does not have a ready-made list of politicians who want to replace Van Pelt, although the Ocean County Freeholder board is filled with ambitious incumbents.
If Van Pelt does resign, the Ocean County Republicans plan to select one person to fill his unexpired term and replace him on the ballot in November. The deadline for filling an unexpired term is 35 days after the resignation, although the replacement won’t be sworn in until the legislature reconvenes.
“If a vacancy takes place we’ll be moving very quickly,” said Gilmore.
There is not much question as to who will succeed Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith (D-Jersey City), who was also charged with taking bribes today. Instead of seeking another term, Smith ran for Jersey City mayor in May. Democrats nominated police detective Charles Mainor for the post.