TOMS RIVER – Four years ago he would have been lucky to get a Styrofoam cup with some coffee in it, but this time, Steve Lonegan could stand in chummy proximity to the GOP portents of power, among them Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore.
The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Lonegan was here to formally collect the endorsement of Acting U.S. Sen. Jeff Chiesa (R-NJ), the former Chris Christie attorney general turned senator-on-the-spot.
“Steve Lonegan has been a consistent voice for individual liberty, limited government, and reforms to expand opportunity and grow our economy,” Chiesa said. “I look forward to joining Steve over the next weeks as he shares his vision for a freer, more prosperous nation with New Jerseyans.”
“This is a unified party,” said Lonegan, standing in a power block that included Chiesa and Gilmore under a Lonegan for U.S. Senate banner outside the county courthouse.
“The country’s beginning to watch this race,” the Republican nominee added. “We’re picking up money with the governor’s endorsement.”
In 2009, Gilmore’s coveted endorsement went in Christie’s direction over Lonegan, as the latter strove to galvanize the anti-establishment portions of the party later realized as the national Tea Party movement.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) was also here to lend his support as the GOP establishment turned Lonegan allies made President Barack Obama the issue.
“He’ll do a great job,” Smith said of Lonegan.
The last member of the NJ Republican delegation to back the GOP nominee, Smith said he needs Lonegan’s help in Washington, D.C. to repeal Obamacare. “It is a bad law that was crafted behind closed doors,” said the veteran congressman from Hamilton. “Cory Booker will vote reflexively with Obama.”
Gilmore said he was all in with Lonegan.
“A stark contrast,” he said of a Lonegan-Booker matchup. “There’s a lot of concern out there about Obamacare. It was not difficult to back Steve given this economy and Obama’s record.”
Yes, he said, it will be challenging to get the vote out in a special October election, “But the stark contrast between Steve and Cory Booker will help get people out.”