In the wake of a very public war of words between Chris Christie and Rand Paul, U.S. Senate hopeful Steve Lonegan (R-NJ) is siding with the Kentucky Senator over his home state governor.
“I agree with Governor Christie that we must be vigilant in our defense against terrorism, but this can be achieved without sacrificing our fundamental liberties” Lonegan said in a late Friday afternoon statement. “Senator Rand Paul is defending our freedom against the overreach of our government into our lives and privacy, and the NSA surveillance scandal clearly highlights this administration’s abuse of its power to invade our private lives. I support Senator Paul’s efforts.”
Gov. Christie has thus far refused to back a candidate in the August 13th Lonegan v. Eck special GOP U.S. Senate primary but he’s pledged to back the ultimate winner over the Democrat nominee. Lonegan and Christie have a shared history of antagonism going back to the 2009 gubernatorial primary but the former mayor has received the establishment’s blessing this time around.
This dispute, however, goes much deeper than historic personal dynamics, Save Jerseyans. The NSA debate has uncovered growing divides among Republicans as clearly illustrated by Wednesday night’s Amash amendment vote on the House Floor. Christie and Paul may inadvertently turn 2016 into a proxy battle between the two emerging camps: (1) traditional “security first” conservatives and (2) libertarian Republicans.