WATCHUNG – In a crowded field of Republican candidates in the 7th Congressional District, long-shot Thomas Roughneen highlights his background as an Iraq War veteran and son of Irish immigrants.
Honor and sacrifice are words he uses often.
Although he is an admirer of President George W. Bush, the 38-year-old former assistant prosecutor from Watchung does not believe the administration put Americans on the proper war footing for a protracted conflict in the Middle East.
A major in the Army, Roughneen (pronounced ROCK-neen) laments the lack of attention and respect received by returning war veterans and a general disconnect between American life and the ongoing mission in Iraq.
His two younger twin brothers are Black Hawk helicopter pilots who are going back to the front lines in a war Roughneen maintains must be waged and won.
A native of Essex County, Roughneen, who until last year was a Democrat, said he believes his former party allowed its disrespect of Bush to turn the war into a political football. The candidate presents himself as the Republican Party’s best chance to upend what he foresees will be an anti-war candidacy by Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Stender.