It’s possible after this evening’s announcement that the former Bogota mayor is moving to the Jersey Shore community of Lavallette and running for Jon Runyan’s open House seat.
Team Steve likes the math. New Jersey’s Third Congressional District is a R+2 post-redistricting
(a.k.a. without Cherry Hill). Jon Runyan was reelected by almost 10-points in 2012 despite the President’s nearly 20-point statewide victory; Chris Christie carried the two counties from which CD3 derives its territory with 62.3% (Burlington) and 75.8% (Ocean) of the vote respectively.
CD3 is red territory and Election 2014, at the moment, looks like it could be the Obamacare-backlash cycle. Lonegan also won 54% of the voter there against Senator Snowflake Cory Booker (D-Twitter).
Sure, Steve Lonegan will still need to win a primary without the Burlington County line (they hate him there) AND probably the Ocean line, too, but his name recognition will easily exceed that of anyone else in the race from the get-go. He also has an infrastructure in place after numerous campaign and AFP-NJ-related initiatives over the course of a decade.
It’ll be up to a big money candidate like Tom MacArthur (R-Randolph) to blow him out of the water IF the race gets that far. We’ll see if anyone feels like expending the time and effort to keep it from getting THAT far.
Few thought it would until the 11th hour. Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci and his best friend Governor Chris Christie (heard of him?) are hosting a fundraising reception to “honor” Steve Lonegan on January 16th in Mountain Lakes. Most observers thought the entire point of helping Lonegan retire his 2013 special U.S. Senate election campaign debt was to keep him satisfied and out of the CD3 contest.
It’s a ballsy gambit that Lonegan might just survive. Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, the likely Dem nominee, is considered a paper tiger. She’ll have to try and hit Lonegan with the extremist carpet-bagger tag and hope the fall turnout model doesn’t render her messaging irrelevant.
I like (not love) Steve’s chances which is a separate and distinct consideration from whether you actually want him in the race, Save Jerseyans. That’s already been decided for you.