Republican congressional hopefuls vying for an opportunity to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3) in Congress were duking it out over the airwaves Wednesday morning.
The candidates, both of whom are locked in a hotly contested GOP primary in CD 3, boasted in a rare debate on the Don Giordano Show their conservative bone fides. Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur, both former mayors, engaged in a fiery exchange in an effort tell listeners who would be the better conservative if elected to represent them in Washington D.C.
“His own assemblyman who covers his own town will endorse me,” declared Lonegan, referring to an upcoming endorsement from Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, who Lonegan announced will endorse him later today.
Carroll, who represents MacArthur’s former hometown of Randolph, is supporting the true conservative in the CD 3 race, Lonegan declared.
“I’d rather have the endorsements of people right here,” MacArthur shot back, referring to the numerous endorsements from elected officials in Burlington and Ocean counties and the district’s GOP establishment.
Later, MacArthur hit Lonegan for requesting state aid for his hometown when he was mayor of Bogota.
“Despite all of that, Steve, you were bailed out by the state of New Jersey six times,” MacArthur. “Your own letters to Gov. Corzine … [said] ‘If I’m not bailed out I’m going to have to raise taxes.’”
MacArthur asked: “How can you say you’re such a great conservative?”
It’s a mayor’s job to lobbying Trenton for local aid after taxpayers send their money to the state’s capital, Lonegan argued. It’s the right thing for a local leader to do for his constituents and he would do it if elected to Congress, he said.
“I on the other hand am a conservative,” Lonegan said. “I believe in the conservative principles.”
The largest issues facing the state in their point of view?
“The most important issue, bar none, is getting the economy going,” MacArthur said.
“The biggest thing that I want to do is repeal Obamacare,” said Lonegan, referring to the Affordable Care Act.