It’s not quite over yet, Save Jerseyans, but Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur appears to be emerging as the favorite to run in Jon Runyan’s place next fall for the New Jersey Third Congressional District GOP nomination.
“MacArthur is the only prospective candidate with the ability to self-finance, an important factor given the fact the DCCC is clearly targeting the 3rd district this time around,” one insider close to the decision-makers told Save Jersey on Thursday. “A self-financier gives both county chairmen the ability to raise and spend more money on their local races, which is especially important in Burlington since control of the freeholder board is up next year. The real question is ‘Who can both County Chairmen can get behind?’ MacArthur is close to the top of that list.”
Mayor MacArthur earned his money in the insurance industry; he served as CEO of York Risk Services Group Inc. for 11 years out of 30 working in the private sector. His cash – and the backing of both county chairmen – could freeze out most other potential challengers save for Steve Lonegan.
He’s made no bones about being in it to win it. “There is a very important balance between self-reliance and having compassion and offering help for people that are really in need,” said MacArthur during a recent online interview, “and I think our federal government needs to regain that balance.”
His most formidable obstacle? The fact that MacArthur merely owns property in Ocean County at the moment despite his imminent plans to move south and establish formal residency in CD3; as a current resident of North Jersey, MacArthur may have to fend off the carpetbagger label.
It may also be a risk that Burlington’s Bill Layton and Ocean’s George Gilmore are willing to take. Even if he’s only trying to retire his campaign debt, the former mayor of Bogota presents as an unpalatable option to the Burlington County organization in particular as they face critical tests up and down the ballot. Multiple sources have told me that both chairs are determined to avoid a primary fight akin to what we saw in the disastrous 2008 cycle.
Whoever ends up securing the GOP nomination appears likely to face Aimee Belgard, an incumbent Burlington County freeholder who one Burlco insider described to me as “your classic paper tiger.” We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?