CD 3 Republican primary in full swing

Money is being raised and fliers are hitting mailboxes in South Jersey.

The CD 3 Republican primary is in full swing.

It didn’t take long after the March 31 filing deadline for candidates to come out swinging in the battle to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3).

Former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur enters the primary lagging against his only primary challenger in signatures, but moves forward with deep pockets and the GOP lines in Ocean and Burlington counties.

Steve Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota who ran an unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign against U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, is widely recognized to have higher name ID and filed nearly twice as many signatures with the state Monday as MacArthur, but will continue his campaign with what is expected to be significantly less cash on hand.

The primary kicked off the same day the candidates submitted their petitions with the state as MacArthur’s campaign issued a statement declaring “Steve Lonegan is all about Steve Lonegan.”

“After being rejected by voters for the 5th time in a bid for higher office last year, Steve Lonegan swore he would never run again. Then, a few weeks later Lonegan went back on his word and said he wanted to run for Congress in the 3rd District, but only if he received support from the county Republican parties in Burlington and Ocean,” reads a statement from the MacArthur campaign.

“Then, after failing to garner any party support in either county, Lonegan went back on his word once again and announced he would run anyway,” it continued.

The statement claimed Lonegan is supporting Republican freeholder candidates to run against GOP incumbents in both counties in a “selfish attempt to divide the Republican Party,” says the MacArthur camp.

On Wednesday, the MacArthur camp hit Lonegan again with a statement that calls attention to a 2007 news story on Lonegan hiring undocumented workers to hang political signs.

“I’m the conservative in the race,” Lonegan told PolitickerNJ on Wednesday, adding he was unaware of at least one of the negative releases.

“I have a proven reputation,” he said, explaining he plans to “stick to it” and looks forward to continuing to bring the discussion to voters in the coming weeks.

Lonegan blasted MacArthur as being recruited to run by “the liberal establishment.”

“He’s [a] liberal hit man,” said Lonegan, referring to a report on a conservative website that alleges MacArthur first ran a local campaign in Randolp “to keep a conservative out of the race.”

In the coming days and weeks, MacArthur is expected to work on his name ID by spending money on television ads and fliers. Lonegan, on the other hand, is expected to focus on campaigning and fundraising.

(Lonegan told PolitickerNJ he raised about $350,000 so far. Despite MacArthur’s campaign keeping silent on its cash on hand figures, MacArthur injected $1 million of his own money into his exploratory committee alone earlier this year.)

Across the aisle, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard is locked in a Democratic primary against corporate lawyer Howard Kleinhendler and CD 3 hopeful Bruce Todd.

Belgard, the Democratic Party’s establishment favorite to clinch the primary in the right-leaning congressional district, submitted nearly 500 petitions for certification earlier in the week.

Todd submitted 456 and Kleinhendler filed 407 petitions with the state.

CD 3 Republican primary in full swing