The CD3 GOP Primary begins in earnest today, Save Jerseyans, and there are already shots fired from Burlington to Ocean.
“I find it ironic that Steve Lonegan chose to announce his candidacy for Congress on President Ronald Reagan’s birthday, apparently trying to wrap himself in Reagan’s legacy when the similarities between Mayor Lonegan and President Reagan are virtually non-existent,” said Senator Dawn Addiego (R-Burlington), in a press release dropped only hours before Steve Lonegan’s CD3 campaign launch in Toms River.
Addiego’s harsh assessment of Lonegan echos those of former Burlco Chairman Glenn Paulsen who recently declared Lonegan unfit for the nomination.
“President Reagan promoted the inclusive ‘big tent’ approach to building our party, and in the process strengthened the Republican brand with an optimistic, hopeful vision for the future of our country that captured the imagination – and the votes – of a vast majority of Americans,” continued Addiego in her scathing release. “Unfortunately, Mayor Lonegan has taken the exact opposite approach over the last decade, and the results have been disastrous. The fact of the matter is that Mayor Lonegan has lost elections for Congress, Governor (twice) and the U.S. Senate, in part, due to a style that is angry and positions that are callous,” added Senator Addiego. “Mayor Lonegan’s record and rhetoric drives away the middle-of-the-road voters we appeal to and win here in Burlington County. If we want to keep the 3rd Congressional District in Republican hands, we need a candidate who will emulate President Reagan in word and deed, not just use his birthday as a prop for a campaign kickoff.”
Former Freeholder Bruce Garganio and Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur are said to be the lead contenders for the Bill Layton-led Burlington GOP organization of which Addiego is a key member. The latter candidate is said to be making the rounds and favorably impressing both establishment and grassroots organizations.
At least one dozen other potential contenders include financial executive Chris Isola.
In private but not-so shyly, Burlco Republicans say they’re worried about the potential down-ballot effect of the controversial and unapologetically confrontational Lonegan heading their ticket in a freeholder board “control year.” The eventual GOP nominee will face Aimee “Obamacare?” Belgard, a sitting Burlington Democrat freeholder.
Ocean County GOP Chairman is reportedly still undecided but leaning ever-so-slightly in MacArthur’s direction.