By Matt Rooney
This year’s NJGOP gubernatorial primary field may grow to five in short order, Save Jerseyans, but the fundamental dymanic of the contest probably hasn’t changed.
Ex-Somerset County freeholder Brian Levine told InsiderNJ over the long holiday weekend that he’s exploring a run for governor. Levine tried to run in 2009 but was booted from the race when Steve Lonegan challenged his signatures. Post-defeat, the then-GOP mayor of Democrat-strong Franklin Township joined the Somerset County freeholder for several years before losing his seat in 2020.
Levine will face a few difficult challenges should he formally launch a campaign.
For starters, he’s an accountant from Somerset County who would be running as a technocratic, policy-focused fix-it man. Former Somerset Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (also CPA) is already in the race, has strong party support, $1 million raised, and Somerset’s GOP organization is already considered a lock for him.
Ciattarelli’s slogan: “Let’s fix New Jersey.” So there’s that.
The affable, subdued Levine is also a “moderate” Republican at a time when both parties’ respective bases are opting for bold colored standard bearers.
There are three other candidates already declared besides Ciattarelli: ex-NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt, perennial candidate Hirsh Singh, and Facebook activist Joe Rullo.
The primary winner will face Phil Murphy in November.