Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

New Jersey Republican Machine Unites Against Steve Lonegan (Updated)

Updated 4:37 p.m. | New Jersey Republicans avoided a nightmare scenario Wednesday night in the highly competitive, open-seat race for the 3rd District.

Ocean County Republicans endorsed former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur as their preferred nominee. The endorsement comes five days after the Burlington County GOP also backed MacArthur.

In 2008, the two county parties supported different Republicans for the nod and lost the 3rd District. In hindsight, many Garden State Republicans blame the party’s loss on that feud over the GOP nominee.

But this cycle, MacArthur has defeated two other contenders — Tom’s River Councilman Mo Hill and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan for the local GOP’s backing. As a result, MacArthur is the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination versus the likely Democratic nominee, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard.

Yet even though MacArthur is the favorite, Lonegan vowed to continue his bid in the June 3 primary, according to The Asbury Park Press. Last year, Lonegan ran against now-Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and earned the support of some national tea party groups. He is well known around the state as a result.

But in New Jersey, the county party endorsement process is highly consequential in picking the nominee. Endorsed candidates receive  preferential ballot placement called “the line” — an advantage that’s proven difficult to overcome on the primary ballot.

Lonegan remained undeterred in a Thursday phone interview, reiterating his intent win the primary campaign.

He noted that he carried the district in his Senate race against Booker and repeatedly cited news reports that MacArthur donated $25,000 to the Ocean County GOP.

He added that he has recruited like-minded down-ballot candidates to appear on the ballot with him. He argued that would mitigate MacArthur’s better ballot placement.

“I’ll have my own party line,” he explained in a phone interview. “I’ve never been an establishment candidate.”

New Jersey’s 3rd District is one of the most sought-after House seats in the country. It is an open-seat race to replace retiring Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J.

Earlier this year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named the district one of the top House targets of 2014, and it is rated a Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Democrats view the district as one of their only opportunities to pick up a seat in an increasingly defensive crouch. Rep. David Jolly’s special election victory in Florida and President Barack Obama’s sagging poll numbers have only boosted the GOP’s hopes for this fall.

Democrats essentially cleared their field for Belgard in 2013. She also has support from EMILY’s List.

New Jersey’s filing deadline is March 31. The primary is on June 3.

  • JenPhilly

    Tom MacArthur will self-finance (he’s got mucho dinero) so much that the DCCC will untarget the district.

  • grettalulu

    Lonegan is so far out there he should have been an X Files episode.

  • radsenior

    Steve Lonegan is a TEA-type. TEA-types vote for their candidate no matter how wrong they are! The Tea Party movement is an American political movement that advocates reducing the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit by reducing U.S. government spending and taxes. The movement has been called partly conservative, partly libertarian, and partly populist. TEA types have lost their way and will not compromise! TEA-Republicans have blocked funding for women and children receiving Food Stamps. TEA-Republicans have blocked funding for veterans and their families. TEA-Republicans have blocked funding for veterans retirements and medical needs after their tours in two wars. TEA-Republicans have passed numerous laws across the nation blocking access to women making their own minds up about their health decisions. America has not lost any liberties, except by the hands of TEA-types and Republicans legislating their beliefs into law. New Jersey Republicans will have to get out their vote. Democrats must get out their vote!

  • rite99

    You literally just described a democrat, they’ll follow Obummer after all his destruction of our country. TB

  • 1DUKEZ

    Could be more specific as to “way out there!”.

  • Raz Matazz

    When we apply the term liberty to nations, we are referring to a people’s desire to determine their own way without foreign control.

  • radsenior

    Typical disrespect for the president. What is it with you TEA-types? President Obama has accomplished more than given credit for even against the hurricane headwinds of TEA-Types and confrontational Republicans. And there is a difference.

  • GetSmarty

    The Independence Hall Tea Party, the oldest and largest Tea Party group in the tri-state (NJ, PA, DE) region, is backing Tom MacArthur–not Steve Lonegan.

    Lonegan is described as a Tea Party champion. In order to be a champion, one has to win elections. Lonegan is 0 for 5 in his attempts to win higher office.

    MacArthur is a Reagan Conservative. He is strong on defense and supports lower taxes, less government, and free enterprise.

    To bill this election as ‘Tea Party v. Establishment’ is a media fabrication.

  • jim55

    If MacArthur is supported by the GOP he is a Neoconservative. He is a big government RINO.He represents the party that had total control of the presidency, the senate, and the house during the little Bush years and did nothing to limit the size of government. In fact they expanded it with more wars abroad, a police state at home, no child left behind, and much more.

  • jim55

    And the politicians you support are anti Constitution. The reason this country is so far out there, so big, so in control of the people, and so out of control with corruption and cronyism.

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