There is some talk that Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Oxford) would emerge as the leading candidate for Lt. Governor, if Steven Lonegan wins the GOP gubernatorial primary and if Doherty fails to beat State Sen. Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan) in the District 23 State Senate primary. Doherty won't give up a State Senate nomination to run statewide.
If Lonegan and Doherty both win on June 2, look at former Assembly Majority Leader Paul DiGaetano (R-Nutley) to emerge as a strong contender to be Lonegan's running mate. DiGaetano was an early supporter of Lonegan, and could help unite the state GOP if the former Mayor of Bogota beats Christopher Christie for the Republican nod.
The 55-year-old DiGaetano has a strong resume: businessman, naval reservist, nine-term Assemblyman, four-term Passaic City Councilman, and former Assembly Majority and Minority Leader. He's also been through a statewide campaign as a candidate for the 2005 Republican nomination for Governor. But DiGaetano might struggle to prove his conservative credentials to Lonegan supporters. Despite his endorsement of Christie, State Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Cedar Grove), the Essex County GOP Chairman, actually enjoys a strong relationship with Lonegan and his top strategist, Rick Shaftan. And O'Toole, who as Chairman of the Republican County Chairmen would play a pivotal role in uniting the party after the primary, can't stand DiGaetano.
Conservatives love Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township), who has been mentioned as a possible Lt. Governor candidate. But Carroll, who is in a tough primary to keep his 25th district Assembly seat, doesn't seem to have much interest in the executive branch. If Lonegan becomes Governor, watch for Carroll to be at the top of the short list for the first open seat on the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Another possible Lonegan running mate is Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-Franklin), the scion of a powerful Sussex County political family who has emerged as one of the Legislature's most conservative members. Her father and grandfather were State Senators, her mother was the GOP State Chair, her husband is an Iraq war veteran, and she worked for Lynne Cheney at the National Endowment for the Humanities. So far, McHose has not endorsed a candidate in the race for Governor.
But for Carroll or McHose, running for Lt. Governor would mean giving up their Assembly seats. State law will not allow someone to run for both offices simultaneously.
One thing to take to the bank: Lonegan won't pick a Lt. Governor to appeal to centrist Republicans. His running mate will share his ideology.