Waretown Mayor Joseph Lachawiec has withdrawn from the 3rd district congressional race and will support former NFL star Jon Runyan. But John Novak — another lower profile candidate who screened last weekend — is not ready to pull the plug.
“I checked in and made the rounds, and in the end I thought it was not in the cards for me to continue on as a candidate for congress, so I conceded to Jon Runyan,” said Lachawiec. “I talked to Jon and offered him my full support in both the primary and general election. I think Jon Runyan’s a great candidate and he will win, he will beat Jon Adler.”
Lachawiec, along with several other potential candidates, was interviewed by the Ocean County Republican screening committee over the weekend.
Although the committee has not made a formal recommendation, the decision of Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill – who was the leading contender from Ocean County – to drop out of the race and endorse Runyan, a Burlington County resident, signals that party leadership is going to go that way as well. Party Chairman George Gilmore, whose 70,000 vote plurality for Gov. Christopher Christie in November reinforced his status as one of the most influential Republican chairs in the sate, also acknowledged to the Asbury Park Press that Runyan is the “front-runner.”
But John Novak, a former Barnegat Committeeman who also screened, is not ready to give in just yet.
“As of this moment I am contemplating my position, sitting with my supporters and my family, and I will consider my options. Certainly within that process has to be a realistic evaluation of whether or not I have the resources and the financial ability to sustain a viable campaign either in the primary or in the general,” said Novak, an avid motorcyclist who is spending this week in Daytona Beach, Fla. for its annual “Bike Week.” “It’s painful to compare what I have to offer to the constituents of the 3rd Congressional District as to what I may lack in resources and material.”
Although he acknowledged that he would be a long shot candidate, Novak – who served a year on the Barnegat committee before being defeated in his 2007 reelection bid – struck a semi-defiant tone.
Novak said Runyan was a “fine gentleman” and did not blame the district’s county chairs from appearing to favor Runyan. Instead, he blamed a process that favors money over qualifications.
“That is not in the least bit disparaging against Mr. Runyan, but it unforunately means that the person with the best qualifications, with the most to offer, may not necessarily be one and the same as the best candidate,” he said.
Novak said that his blue collar roots and occupational background should make him the best candidate: he put himself through college and has experience in home construction, running an excavation company, working as a state trooper and, for the last two decades, as an attorney.
He also said he does not compromise on his core beliefs. For instance, he is against not just gay marriage, but same-sex civil unions. He is against abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger (Runyan is pro-choice).
“If I was hiring someone to be a football coach or administrator with the NFL, I know John Novak is not the man for that job,” he said. “But if you want to hire someone to support, protect and defend the constitution of the United States… then I’m the guy for the job.”
Toms River resident Joseph Rullo, who also screened over the weekend, could not immediately be reached for comment. However, Rullo, who once ran unsuccessfully for freeholder as a Democrat but has since become a Republican, has said that he plans to run in a primary no matter what.