Who will succeed O’Toole?

GOP sources say a fight to succeed Chair of the Republican Chairman Kevin O’Toole could prove a three-way young buck standoff among Burlington County Republican Chairman Bill Layton, Atlantic County GOP Chairman Keith Davis and Warren County Republican Chair Doug Steinhardt.

A disciple of political heavyweight Glen Paulsen, Layton helms a county organization that wants to knock out U.S. Rep. John Alder (D-Cherry Hill) in the most anticipated Congressional race of the season. If he’s interested in the job, Layton’s argument to fellow party pooh-bahs could be that the GOP rides in part on what happens in Burlington this November. 

The same might be said of Davis next year.

The GOP chairman of Atlantic County hears the name “state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic City),” and goes into heat-seeking mode. Most Republicans figure Assemblyman Vince Polistina (R-Egg Harbor Township) will be the GOP challenger to Whelan, but Assemblyman John Amodeo (R-Margate) has amassed a respectable campaign warchest – bigger than his district-mate’s, in fact – and could be an option should Polistina decide not to run.

Davis could argue his case for chair of the GOP chairs by pointing to his county’s potentially key position on the map as Republicans try to regain control of the state legislature in 2011.

Then there’s Steinhardt, the rural backwoodsman among O’Toole prospective succesors. Nothing major permeates Warren County politics right now, but the ambitious young attorney who is politically connected on both sides of the aisle (Steinhardt’s law partner is former Dem Gov. Jim Florio) could make a case that he won’t be occupied by local firefights and will be better positioned to consider the entire state as leader of the party’s chairs.