Even though he says he’s the front runner in Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, Murray Sabrin is already thinking ahead to 2009. One Sabrin friend, with knowledge of the campaign strategy, says that the Ramapo College professor is likely to run for Governor next year. That throws an interesting wrench into the plans of former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who is likely to count the Ron Paul/Libertarian wing of the New Jersey GOP as part of his natural base in a gubernatorial primary against U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie. Sabrin has been complaining about Lonegan since last month, when the conservative leader pulled out of a campaign fundraiser and slapped his wrists for running an especially nasty Senate campaign.
Paybacks can be a real bitch in politics – that’s something that ex-gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler well knows. Lonegan was an important cog in Schundler’s 2001 primary campaign, but split with the former Mayor of Jersey City when Schundler refused to back Lonegan’s efforts to run conservative slates of legislative candidates in Bergen County in 2003. It’s fair to say that Lonegan won enough votes in the ’05 primary to deny Schundler a second shot at running for Governor. Could Sabrin do the same thing to Lonegan next year?