A source told PolitickerNJ that former Assemblyman and Camden County Sheriff-Elect Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (D-5) was not in attendance during a meeting of New Jersey’s county sheriffs last week, choosing instead to be at the statehouse in Trenton before the attempted override vote he would not be participating in.
While Wilson’s disappearance from the Democratic roster was not the deciding factor in the override’s failure to reach the required 54 votes, the timing was unusual — and the question remains why Wilson would opt to stop and say goodbye in the Assembly rather than attend the sheriffs’ meeting after such a high-profile exit.
Wilson had abruptly offered his resignation to Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-32) the day before the vote, citing a statute that obliges government officials to resign from their current post no more than thirty days after being elected to an additional office. Wilson will be officially sworn in this January.
Executive Director John Armeno confirmed that Wilson’s predecessor, retiring Camden County Sheriff Charles Billingham, was there at the meeting last Thursday instead of Wilson.
The source offered that he believes Wilson was pushed or tempted out of the Assembly for political reasons, though he stopped short of saying what South Jersey’s Democratic machine would have to gain from Wilson’s move to the Camden County Sheriff’s Department.
Senator James Beach (D-6) said that he did not see anything unusual in Wilson’s decision.
“The reality of the situation is that he didn’t go because he’s not sworn in,” said Beach, adding that the statute on holding dual offices was the sole reason for Wilson’s resignation.