A Republican primary is in full swing in the third congressional district.
Former U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan reemerged as a congressional candidate late Friday afternoon following news he and his wife are relocating to a home in South Jersey. The former Bogota mayor said he’s intent on running for the federal seat set to be vacated by U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3).
“It’s going to be a tough race and I believe I’m the best candidate to articulate the Republican message,” Lonegan said
In November, Lonegan left open the possibility of relocating to CD 3 in an effort to make a congressional run. The news of his decision to close on a home and mount a campaign came the same week another former New Jersey mayor, Tom MacArthur, announced Gov. Chris Christie’s two-time campaign treasurer agreed to serve as treasurer of his exploratory committee.
MacArthur, a retired insurance executive, committed $1 million to his congressional run.
But despite what’s likely to be a fundraising disparity between the two candidates, at least in the preliminary stages of the campaign, Lonegan says he’s not dissuaded from entering the CD 3 fray.
“I have something nobody else has,” said Lonegan on Friday, referring to his name ID as a result of his U.S. Senate run against Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
“I don’t need to put in a million of my own money,” he said, adding, “I will estimate [MacArthur] will need $2 million to get his name ID” to his level.
Lonegan argued his “fully seasoned” team is ready to build off the work they’ve already accomplished in the district from his U.S. Senate run, namely winning the district, he said.
However, MacArthur says the news of Lonegan entering the race has done little to disrupt his intention to run in CD 3.
“My concern is not Steve Lonegan. I do not believe he can win in a General Election,” MacArthur said. “My job is to let [people of Ocean and Burlington counties] know who I am, what has shaped my life and what I stand for.”
MacArthur refers to himself as “the consensus candidate” and says he has a business and personal story to share with party leaders and county residents.
“I view this as three elections, there’s the convention in both counties, there’s the primary and, obviously, there’s the general,” he said. “My focus right now is just letting the people in these counties know who I am.”