Worried about the manifesto’s effect on Saxton, Ferguson seats, GOP leaders seeking a threesome in Senate primary

With just twenty days to go before the April 7 filing deadline, a group of New Jersey Republican leaders are actively searching for another United States Senate candidate to challenge State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio and Ramapo College Professor Murray Sabrin in the June GOP primary. The race changed considerably two weeks ago when millionaire Anne Evans Estabrook abruptly quit the Senate race after suffering a minor stroke, and with the public disclosure yesterday of Pennacchio’s 1991 nationalist manifesto that has some party leaders in a panic.

Sources say that several GOP leaders approached State Sen. Diane Allen to run; Allen has been recovering from pneumonia and has reportedly declined.

Republicans are still not convinced that they can beat the four-term Democratic incumbent, 84-year-old Frank Lautenberg; the GOP hasn’t won a U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey since 1972, and haven’t scored a statewide victory since 1997 – 49 other states have elected a Republican to statewide office since that election. But efforts to recruit other candidates following Estabrook’s departure – like millionaire banker Joseph Buckalew, State Sen. Christopher Bateman, and U.S Marshal James Plousis – were unsuccessful, and for a short time it appeared that the GOP establishment was looking at Pennacchio’s nomination as inevitable.

The controversial manifesto and Pennacchio’s loss to Sabrin at the Gloucester County GOP convention last Saturday, has renewed interest in a third candidate by party insiders concerned that a huge Lautenberg win could affect GOP congressional candidates in the pivotal third and seventh district.

Worried about the manifesto’s effect on Saxton, Ferguson seats, GOP leaders seeking a threesome in Senate primary