It’s a Republican mess in CD 3, with Democrats high fiving in the vicinity of Freeholder Aimee Belgard as Burlington and Ocean counties attempt to figure out how to squeeze three candidates into one.
PolitickerNJ has documented the troubles from the outset.
After more than a dozen names batted themselves around in search of support to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3), it’s boiled down to three: former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, Toms River Councilman Mo Hill and former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur.
Burlington wants MacArthur. They like him. He can fund his own campaigns and not weigh down the organization with a lot of drama (ie: phone calls in search of financial support).
Despite the Ocean GOP screening committee endorsing MacArthur and reinforcing establishment GOP backing for the candidate across the two-county district, Hill, a retired rear admiral in the Navy, continues to summon support from fellow Republicans, both in his hometown of Toms River and in Brick – the two biggest towns in the Ocean portion of CD2.
“This is a military exercise, and the objective right now is to get the support of the Ocean County Republican Party,” Hill told PolitickerNJ.
Sources near the meeting last night say the rear admiral doesn’t have rock solid support out of Brick. It was a straw poll, not cemented backing.
“Mo’s not going to have the firepower,” insisted a GOP source.
The trouble is Hill has no money, his peers say.
They love Hill in Ocean – and admire him. He can command a heavily armed vessel and ram the enemy but he can’t raise a dime, establishment insiders say, mortified at the prospect of Hill damning the torpedoes full speed ahead into the March 19th convention.
Burlington can’t back Hill.
They snapped up MacArthur because he has money.
In Ocean, “If committee members walk in there with their hearts on their sleeves and back Mo Hill, they’ll sink us all,” one source moaned.
They fear all a Hill victory will do is empower Lonegan, the movement conservative from North Jersey, a 2013 U.S. Senate candidate who dented U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who’s already raised $500,000 toward his own run for Congress.
A Burlington source said he remains confident that Hill is sunk at that convention later this month.
At this point Lonegan is putting together his own battle plans in case Ocean doesn’t give him the line.
He already knows Burlington won’t touch him.
A source told PolitickerNJ that Lonegan is assembling his own line, starting with U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Bell, and rounded out with a freeholder slate.
The winner of a three-way primary, establishment Republicans say, is Belgard, who’s already hosted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and coalesced her party around the prospect of a woman going to Congress from CD3.