CD3 Ocean Screening Looms Large

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

George Gilmore
George Gilmore

Who will replace Jon Runyan on the ballot this November, Save Jerseyans? Republican decision-making is truly coming down to the wire as primary-related deadlines are fast-approaching.

A major milestone occurs this Saturday when Ocean County’s screening committee will meeting with candidates and decide who deserves their endorsement in June, the outcome of which renders the March convention a fait accompli for the victor.

Lured by the appeal of an open seat in a likely favorable federal cycle, approximately one-and-a-half dozen individuals have expressed interest, formally or otherwise, in pursuing the Republican nomination this year including a former Marine platoon commander and a sitting Assemblyman. Save Jersey sources in CD3, however, say three names comprise the serious contenders for Ocean County’s coveted line…

One well-placed source in the Jersey Shore GOP hierarchy echoed the consensus opinion, confirming for Save Jersey that “out of all the candidates in the race, three of them have been courting vote-holders at Ocean County’s Convention more seriously than others: Lonegan, Hill, and MacArthur. They can court all they like, but when the Chairman makes a decision nearly everyone in the county will fall in line, and Saturday’s screening is the first step towards that end.”

True enough. County GOP Chairman George Gilmore wields a legendary degree of influence in New Jersey Republican politics and he exercises near-total control over politics in a county that gave Chris Christie nearly 76% of its popular vote last November.

Who does he like?

“Lonegan and MacArthur in particular are leaps and bounds ahead of the others in terms of campaign organization” added our source. “It seems like they’re the only ones prepared for the eventuality of possibly winning at the convention.”

Lonegan, for his part, spent Thursday at McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County to curry favor with the district’s heavily-military constituency but, lest we forget, kicked off his campaign in Ocean County’s largest town, Toms River. It’s been a grassroots patented Lonegan effort involving bombastic attacks on Democrat elites and feverish door knocking at the homes of county committee members. The biggest strike against Lonegan in Ocean County might be that Burlington will never support him, and reportedly Chairman Gilmore doesn’t like the idea of a contentious primary akin to the ’08 contest which resulted in the first Democrat CD3 congressman in over a century.

MacArthur is taking a more calculated approach to the race than Lonegan since he can afford it. Literally. He’s meeting with key constituency groups, rolling out his digital presence, and building a core of campaign professionals which now includes Chris Russell, a Ocean County resident who works closely with the Burlington GOP organization, and Frank Luna, a Waretown native with considerable CD3 and statewide political experience. We’re told he remains the favorite.

Other sources warn that we shouldn’t rule out a surprise. Retired Admiral, practicing dentist, and veteran Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill doesn’t possess anywhere near the vast organization of a Lonegan or the impressive wealth of MacArthur. He does boast an impressive resume and the distinction of being the only “final 3” contender to not carry the transplant tag (Lonegan hails from Bergen; MacArthur is a mayor in Morris).

The key point heading into the weekend: unlike 2010, nothing is a lock. Not this time around.

47 thoughts on “CD3 Ocean Screening Looms Large

  1. If it’s not Lonegan, may as well hand the seat to the Dems – what’s the difference . . . . . .

  2. I’ll give one thing to Lonegan, he’s got ample practical experience in losing gracefully. I’m in full agreement with most of his positions and I still don’t like him, which is quite an achievement. I’d take a likable, self-financing carpetbagger over him if needs be. But hey who cares, I’m not in CD3…

  3. Lonegan has name recognition & would be much appreciated to have serve in Congress with Scott Garrett.
    Hillary Clinton & Robert F Kennedy were carpetbaggers however Lonegan is NOT because he has lived in NJ all his life. So when he becomes the next Congressman in the 3rd district he will still be representing NJ.
    The Burlington GOP should get behind Lonegan rather then shoot themselves in the foot.
    NJ State Senator Addiego lost my vote with her attack on Lonegan hours BEFORE he announced.
    It is unfortunate so many RINOs like her have the backing of many GOP organizations like the liberal Burlington county GOP.

  4. I don’t know who Frank Luna is, but I have grave concerns about this so called “Independence Hall tea party group” that is supposedly the largest yet only had 8 votes for MacArthur!
    8 votes? & you claim to be biggest TP group?! How many of those 8 votes came from out of state?

    WHY Save NJ chose to say “groups” when it is just one organization baffles me.

    Note that the Independence Hall Tea Party chose to remain silent in October 2013, when Lonegan needed the votes in that U.S. Senate race against Booker.
    They spoke in November & prior to the general election but when it counted their silence endorsed Booker.

    BTW their main concern is that Lonegan has lost races. But no big name Republican threw their hat in to run, it was a supposed given Booker was going to walk away winning the Senate race. In fact if you read that IHTP piece they say Lonegan was 25 points below Booker, yet it ended up far closer than anyone thought, & the gov’t shut down just days before the election cost him many votes and perhaps the election because Obamacare problems took the back seat just at it’s introduction. Too bad IHTP looks at polls. They should look at real numbers.

    Lonegan got 64% of the votes in Ocean County & 44% in Burlington County AND he was far behind in getting money not a dime came from this “so called” Independence Hall Tea Party

    Compare that to the Indepence Hall Tea Party favored candidate Joe Kyrillos for the U.S. Senate race in NJ in 2012.
    NJ Senator Joe Kyrillos went up against U.S. Senator Menendez & in that race he had twice as much campaign money as Lonegan, yet Kyrillos numbers were far more disappointing losing 59% to 39% overall
    He won Ocean 56% (again Lonegan won w/ 64%) and lost Burlington with 40% (Lonegan again had more getting 44%)
    I seriously doubt if the Independence Hall Tea Party even spoke to all the half dozen candidates thought to be running for this2014 CD3 race & if they already endorsed BEFORE any candidate qualified to run for the Congressional seat then it appears they are hardly independent!
    (To qualify to be on the ballot each candidate must turn in at least 200 signatures on petitions to run & none has done so yet)
    I have seen the IHTP poor performance before and can provide a list if you wish.

    Lonegan will not be facing a candidate with $11M, in fact he should have more money than the Democrat candidate in this race. Yes Lonegan has lost previous races, he ONLY won 4 counties when he ran for Governor against Christie in 2009 (despite having only $500k to Christie’s $3M).
    But open your eyes.
    This time Lonegan is not the underdog in this race, and he stands on the issues I favor. It’s time for Burlington County to wake up. And it’s time for IHTP to stay out of NJ & probably DE & PA if they’re as bad as they are in NJ.

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