By SHIRLEY WITHERSPOON
Conservative lightning rod Steve Lonegan launched his bid for New Jersey’s 5th congressional seat with a thunderbolt yesterday. Speaking in front of a sizable group of supporters at the Marriott Courtyard in Paramus, New Jersey, Lonegan told the crowd his reasons for running for the House of Representatives.
“Personal liberty is the most important issue for every resident of New Jersey and every U.S. citizen. The less the government interferes in our lives, the better our lives are, and it allows for the most efficient government,” Lonegan told the crowd.
“I am proud to be a conservative. A real conservative. I will never vote to increase a tax unless we’re in a war that threatens our borders,” the former three-term Mayor of Bogota added. “And I won’t ever succumb to the politically correct politicians in Washington.”
Lonegan is the first Republican candidate to announce in this longtime GOP stronghold. Jason Sarnoski, a little known Warren County Freeholder, has said he formed an exploratory committee to evaluate the race, although there does not seem to be any traction for his potential candidacy. Word of an even lesser known lawyer from Bergen County has emerged as a possible Republican candidate, but it is rumored that this figure works for a Democrat official. Regardless of who else may throw his/her hat in the race, it is extremely unlikely that they can mount a formidable campaign against the very popular Lonegan.
A man who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro less than two years ago (at age 59), Lonegan is described by friends and foes as a relentless political machine. “He won’t ever give up,” said Lonegan campaign chairman, Kenneth Del Vecchio, “Never.”
“Throughout all my my professional travels, Steve Lonegan stands out, at the highest level, in intellect, talent, and experience. The man is a brilliant leader,” Del Vecchio touted, when he announced Lonegan’s candidacy at the Marriott press conference. That’s quite a statement when it’s coming from a person of seemingly never-ending accomplishments. Del Vecchio is also chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, an acclaimed filmmaker of over 30 movies, a best-selling author (novels and legal books), a frequent legal/political analyst on Fox News and other networks, a former judge, and an attorney who has tried hundreds of cases.
Del Vecchio may be echoing the thoughts of the everyman voter in New Jersey’s 5th congressional district, as Lonegan has become somewhat of a political cult hero to conservatives – and young Republicans – in the area and beyond at the national level. Lonegan served as the New Jersey Director of the Koch Brothers’ conservative activist group, Americans For Prosperity. He also defeated liberal governor John Corzine in a rare statewide economic referendum regarding state funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Lonegan’s election history in this congressional district is daunting. In 2013, he was the GOP recipient of the party line in a U.S. Senate seat contest; he went head-to-head with Cory Booker, who is undoubtedly New Jersey’s top Democrat rock star. While garnering 45% of the vote statewide, Lonegan beat Booker in CD 5 by over 2,000 votes. He also bested then-mega GOP powerhouse Chris Christie in Sussex and Warren Counties in the 2009 Republican gubernatorial primary.
Many political observers are already asking the questions:
Why would any Republican even want to try to run against Lonegan?
And why would any GOP leadership not support him in this race?
Lonegan appears to be unbeatable in a Republican primary, given his widely known conservative credentials. It also seems quite clear, to the normal voter, that he is best suited to defeat freshman Democrat congressman Josh Gottheimer in the 2018 general election.
“Steve Lonegan is a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, terrorist destroying, IRS ending, economy boosting capitalist,” proclaimed Del Vecchio in his announcement speech for the candidate.
These are exactly the type of views that electrify the Republican base. And that’s not only who will be coming out in droves in the GOP primary, but this group is also likely to dominate in the general election. Next year is projected to generate a smaller turnout, as it’s neither a presidential nor gubernatorial election year. The top of the ticket is a U.S. senate seat that is currently held by a beleaguered Robert Menendez. The Democrat base is not too likely to be motivated via that race, nor by Gottheimer, who isn’t exactly a household name.
Lonegan is already all over his opponent. Not so much about his lack of name recognition, but more about his true left wing agenda. This appeals to the GOP base, who are frightened by the socialist turns that the United States took under the helm of Barack Obama and that New Jersey is poised to suffer through upcoming election results.
“Josh Gottheimer is an ultra-liberal. He has been unmasked by my campaign today. And I will continue to notify all the voters of this congressional district of his damaging leftist agenda,” Lonegan said.
Gottheimer has tried to portray himself as a moderate. This storyline was integral to his campaign in getting elected last year, when he narrowly defeated Scott Garrett, a 14-year GOP congressional veteran. CD 5 has significantly more registered Republican voters than Democrats. Accordingly, the only inroad for a Democrat’s election is to present a moderate platform.
“Gottheimer played that card well last year. And because many voters don’t know much about him, he was able to slip by. Not in this election, however,” Lonegan promised. “His allegiances with Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi will be broadcast everywhere in the district. And then, simply, he will lose and I will prevail. That’s because this is a race between a conservative and a liberal. These voters want a conservative.”
Lonegan, who also advised that it’s crucial for all Republicans to be supportive of President Trump, said, “The voters here want to see the end of sanctuary cities. They want the wall built. They want veterans protected. They want education handled at the local level and not by the federal government. They want ObamaCare repealed. And they don’t want their taxes raised to pay for a socialist agenda. This means they don’t want Josh Gottheimer in Congress – because he opposes all that.”
Del Vecchio, who was himself the first Congress candidate in the country to endorse Donald Trump for president – and served as the NY Congressional District 18/Orange County chairman of the Trump presidential campaign – said, “Right off the bat, I picked Donald Trump as a winner. And, today, I pick Steve Lonegan. He will win this Congress race.”
COMMENTS DISABLED BY SITE.
YOU MAY, HOWEVER, COMMENT THROUGH FACEBOOK.