Primary Race Between Lonegan, MacArthur Gets Heated

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

It’s a race between money and organization on one hand and name recognition on the other.

Tom MacArthur made a fortune in the insurance industry and has the backing of the party establishment.

Steve Lonegan calls MacArthur too liberal.

“Seen his slick TV ads? The truth: Tom MacArthur is a liberal,” Lonegan says in a TV ad.

“I’d like to see the total repeal of Obamacare and replace it with the private sector free enterprise, individual effort. My opponent has said the government has some role in our health insurance and wants to see a health insurance company of last resort. That’s exactly out of Hillary Clinton’s handbook,” Lonegan said.

“He has said repeal it, period. I think he’s forgetting or not admitting that health care was broken in this country before Obamacare. Obamacare has made it worse, but to repeal it and do nothing I think is a mistake. We have to achieve tort reform so medicine is practiced differently in this country. As I said, we have to allow insurance to be sold across state lines, which is not permitted today,” MacArthur said.

MacArthur calls Lonegan out of touch with New Jersey.

When asked if Lonegan is too conservative, MacArthur said, “Steve is too abrasive, he’s too caustic. He’s too toxic and angry.”

The third congressional embraces Ocean and Burlington counties and stretches from the shore to Delaware.

When current Congressman Jon Runyan called it quits, the former mayor of Randolph Township and the former mayor of Bogota moved to their shore houses to run.

Their race has gotten bitter.

“You sued tenants in the middle of winter and tried to throw them out on the street,” said MacArthur.

“Pal, this is On The Record. I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re lying. You’re making this up,” said Lonegan.

Lonegan says he expected Ocean County Republicans to support him until MacArthur gave them a big donation.

“It’s very clear to me, abundantly clear, that the writing of big fat checks to these organizations had a huge influence,” said Lonegan.

“Steve worked very, very hard to try to get support in this county. He got three votes at the convention. He worked hard in Burlington and got no votes. So out of 4-500 convention delegates across the two counties, he got a total of three people that supported him,” MacArthur said.

“So am I an underdog and respond in terms of money, yes I am but I’m raising a lot of money. When it comes to messaging grass roots we have the edge and that’s what wins primaries,” said Lonegan.

In a way, this Republican primary resembles what’s going on in the rest of the country, an establishment Republican being challenged by a Tea Party Republican, except in this case the establishment candidate is new and the Tea Partier very familiar.