By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Steve Lonegan is arguably the most conservative statewide candidate New Jersey Republicans have nominated in 35 years.
Last night he stuck with the kind of rhetoric that got him here.
“We’re not gonna triangulate on a message. We’re not gonna parse our words. We’re not gonna capitulate to pollsters and pundits and to an elite core of talking heads in the media. We know what we believe in. We’re gonna say what we believe and when we go to Washington, D.C. we’re gonna do what we say,” Lonegan said.
His lone challenger, Alieta Eck, appeared to sign on.
“I’m gonna back the Republican Party. I wanna see a Republican win in October or November,” Eck said.
Lonegan has identified with the Tea Party in the past and much of it supports him, which raises the question whether his candidacy can excite moderate Republicans as well.
“I would call him a mainstream Republican. He certainly has strong Tea Party support,” said Congressman Leonard Lance.
Lance says he and Lonegan respect the Tea Party for its focus on fiscal responsibility.
“That is a component of a larger whole and I think that Republicans of all stripes will be able to converge around Steve Lonegan as indeed Republicans of all stripes are converging around Gov. Christie,” Lance said.
“I think he will have a united party and I think also he will have the two major issues in the campaign, the first issue being Obamacare and the second issue being how do we protect our national security without sacrificing civil liberties,” Republican Strategist Alan Steinberg said. “He already has emphasized the fact that Republicans have not elected a U.S. senator since Cliff Case in 1972. That’s over 40 years ago, and Republicans do want a winner.”
It would help Lonegan if Christie energetically supports him.
“We’re looking forward to the governor’s support, but the governor’s got an important job also and that’s to bring in a Republican Senate and Assembly in November. So he’s gonna focus on that. We’ve gotta focus on our race,” Lonegan strategist Rick Shaftan said. “And Steve’s gonna make the case for himself better than anybody else. So we want everybody’s support. We’re looking forward to it but ultimately it comes down to the candidate and what the candidate has to say, just as Cory Booker can’t rely on Oprah Winfrey to carry him over the top.”
Christie has said he would support Lonegan despite some harsh words between them four years ago. Christie’s campaign said today no endorsement ceremony has yet been planned.