Transplants duel for GOP nomination in N.J. congressional primary

 Former mayor of Bogota, Bergen County, Steve Lonegan (left) and former mayor of Randolph, Morris County, Tom MacArthur (AP Photos by Mel Evans)

Former mayor of Bogota, Bergen County, Steve Lonegan (left) and former mayor of Randolph, Morris County, Tom MacArthur (AP Photos by Mel Evans)

The race to fill retiring Rep. Jon Runyan’s (R-N.J.) seat has grown nasty on the Republican side. 

With just a couple of weeks until New Jersey’s June Primary Election, the ads for Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur are pulling no punches.

Lonegan is the former mayor of Bogota, Bergen County, who won the Republican nomination for U.S Senate last year, only to lose to Democrat Cory Booker. Tom MacArthur is the former mayor of Randolph in Morris County. Both men moved to the district to make a run for Runyan’s seat, which covers much of Burlington and Ocean Counties.

One of Lonegan’s political ads claims MacArthur is not a true conservative. “Liberal Tom MacArthur supports a national health insurance system just Like President Obama,” it reads.

MacArthur’s own ads have blasted Lonegan, accusing him of telling those hurt by Superstorm Sandy to “suck it up.”

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said negative ads depress voter turnout, and he believes that’s something Lonegan wants to do since he lacks party support.

“He doesn¹t want more voters coming out because they’re likely to pull the lever for the guy who has the county endorsement,” said Murray.

Murray’s polling shows MacArthur with an 11-point lead over Lonegan, with 20 percent still undecided.

In his many campaigns over the years, Lonegan has relished running as an outsider, mobilizing the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.  On election night in November, he said he was done running for office, planning to stay in the private sector.

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