Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan today took credit for what he described as accelerating Chris Christie’s formal entrance into the Republican primary for governor.
“I’m kind of proud of myself,” said Lonegan, himself a candidate. “I filed $400,000 in matching funds and people jump. Within 48 hours of me announcing my matching funds, he gets in the race.”
A leader of New Jersey’s conservative movement, Lonegan said he still does not know where Christie, a former U.S. Attorney with a crime fighting track record, stands on the rest of the issues.
“He opposes corruption,” said Lonegan. “So do I. But now that he’s declared and on the battlefield, we’re going to start comparing stands on issues. It’s going to be the experience of a mayor and business owner, versus an attorney. This is a classic case of a conservative, low-tax Republican versus the status quo.
“I know Mr. Christie can’t do that job.”
Scheduled to speak at the Mays Landing Republican Club this evening, Lonegan said he would be unable to attend a Union County Republican reception for the GOP gubernatorial candidates. Surrogate Hank Butehorn would take his place, he said.
Christie and fellow candidates Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham) and Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine plan to attend the Summit event, according to sources.
“Mr. Levine’s a nice guy,” said Lonegan. “I’m glad to have another mayor in the race. Mr. Christie’s comment in the Inquirer that we have too many of these small towns? I couldn’t disagree with him more, and look forward to defending home rule against his argument.”