PITMAN – He could have been a contender.
Greenwich Township Mayor George Shivery and former Cumberland County surrogate Arthur Marchand were the establishment GOP’s pick for Assembly in the 3rd Legislative District – a place where state Republicans had at least made noise about competing. But the two lost the primary in an upset to political newcomers Robert Villare and Lee Lucas. Now a 2006 police report has surfaced that quotes Lucas using a racial slur towards neighbors, and his candidacy is considered sunk.
“What bothers me the most is we had such a great chance to take one of the positions if not both of them, and Art and I could have won,” said Shivery.
Shivery said he does not expect Lucas to heed the party leadership’s pressure to drop out of the race. He blames former Gloucester County Republican Chairwoman Loran Oglesby and her allies for recruiting him and Villare into the race – a charge that Oglesby denied throughout the last days of her term.
Although state Republicans have warmed to Villare, a cardiothoracic surgeon who has never met or spoken with Lucas, Shivery said that the two “have the same roots.” And while Villare’s campaign coordinator has issued a statement distancing the two candidates, Shivery said he was upset that Villare had not condemned Lucas.
“Where they both came from, for me it’s very hard to separate the two,” he said. “Have you seen any public disclosure from the Doctor saying anything about Lucas?”
Meanwhile, GOP State Chairman Jay Webber could only repeat his call for Lucas to drop out.
"I condemn his comments in the strongest terms… it would be my prefernece that he would drop his candidacy," he said. "He's elected by Republican primary voters, and unfortunately he's running under the Republican banner this year."