Afraid of facing a GOP primary challenge, Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-Franklin) had indicated to Republican leaders that she would endorse former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie for Governor after the filing deadline – which was last Monday. Sources say that the Christie camp, aggravated by McHose's delay, is no longer viewing her as a possible candidate for Lt. Governor. It's possible that Christie would not have asked McHose to be his running mate anyway, but her neutrality has all but ended her hope of running statewide this year.
Rick Shaftan, who is Steve Lonegan's chief strategist, lives in McHose's legislative district. McHose was frightened that Shaftan would punish her for endorsing Christie by fielding candidates to run against her. State Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Franklin) is the only GOP State Senator who has not endorsed Christie. Other McHose allies, including Assemblyman Gary Chiusano (R-Frankford), former State Sen. Robert Littell, and former Republican State Chair Virginia Littell, have not endorsed a candidate in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
One more endorsement that's been missing from Christie's trophy case: Morris County Freeholder John Murphy, who unseated him in the 1997 GOP primary. Christie later sued Murphy and his campaign consultant, David Murray, for matters related to their campaign tactics. (The matter was settled out of court and sealed.) Coincidentally, McHose and her parents backed Murphy in his bid for the 2005 gubernatorial nomination.
Editor's Note: Assemblywoman McHose sent an e-mail disputing this report, which is printed in entirety below:
As a conservative, I would never oppose a conservative gubernatorial candidate. This simple fact informed my decision not to endorse Chris Christie. I have never sought the office of Lt. Governor.
Rick Shaftan is my friend and constituent. Steve Lonegan is a very dear friend of mine, as is Rick Merkt, and we have fought many a legislative battle together.
In the primary of 2007, I helped put together a ticket that was given little odds of winning. In that very contentious primary, I was the top Republican vote getter in all of New Jersey (I like to tease my good friend Alex DeCroce that I even got more votes than he did in his primary).
My district was selected for the taxpayer-subsidized Clean Elections Program – so that for the first time, the Democrats could be at financial parity. In the general election that followed, my ticket won by a margin of 40%. We virtually wiped out every down-ballot Democrat in my district.
This year, my ticket doesn’t face a single primary challenger. And may I remind each and every GOP gubernatorial candidate, that my district consistently provides the largest margin of victory for statewide Republican candidates.
So please tell me, Mr. Editor, what do I have to fear, and from whom?