New Jersey Republican Machine Unites Against Steve Lonegan

New Jersey Republicans avoided a nightmare scenario Wednesday night in the highly competitive, open-seat race for the 3rd District.

Ocean County Republicans endorsed former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur as their preferred nominee. The endorsement comes five days after the Burlington County GOP also backed MacArthur.

In 2008, the two county parties supported different Republicans for the nod and lost the 3rd District. In hindsight, many Garden State Republicans blame the party’s loss on that feud over the GOP nominee.

But this cycle, MacArthur has defeated two other contenders — Tom’s River Councilman Mo Hill and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan for the local GOP’s backing. As a result, MacArthur is the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination versus the likely Democratic nominee, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard.

Yet even though MacArthur is the favorite, Lonegan vowed to continue his bid in the June 3 primary, according to The Asbury Park Press. Last year, Lonegan ran against now-Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and earned the support of some national tea party groups. He is well known around the state as a result.

But in New Jersey, the county party endorsement process is highly consequential in picking the nominee. Endorsed candidates receive preferential ballot placement called “the line” — an advantage that’s proven difficult to overcome on the primary ballot.

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