Steve Lonegan, special consultant for Americans for Prosperity, said today he will gather signatures to enter the primary in the special election for the US Senate. And a spokesman for Team New Jersey pledged him their full support.
Draft Steve Lonegan
Steve Lonegan told The Star-Ledger (Newark) that a movement to draft him into the special election primary was already under way. (Jarrett Renshaw covered this for S-L.) Steve Lonegan told Renshaw that he was “considering” it.
The former mayor of Bogota might, or might not, have heard the rumblings in New Jersey’s Tea Party movement. RoseAnn Salanitri, head of the New Jersey Tea Party Caucus, sent an e-mail to CNAV late yesterday evening. She pointed out that Governor Chris Christie, in setting the special election for October 16, forced a very early deadline for nominating petitions for the primary. She then said only Steve Lonegan might “have the mojo” to gather a thousand signatures by the Monday, June 10, 4 p.m. deadline.
CNAV sought comment from Lonegan and from Americans for Prosperity. Lonegan did not return his e-mail – at least not at once. AfP refused comment. But Nick Purpura of Team New Jersey received the idea with enthusiasm.
Evidently another Team New Jersey activist, Dennis Mahon, sent Purpura an e-mail (time-stamped 1:46 p.m. EDT) recalling that in 2009, he and his friends once gathered 11,220 signatures to nominate Steve Lonegan for governor in that year. He suggested many candidates could never qualify in that short time – but Steve Lonegan could.
Then at 2:59 p.m. today, Mr. Renshaw released another article, saying:
- Steve Lonegan will gather signatures to enter that Senate primary.
- State Senator Mike Doherty will not run for the Senate, and will support Steve Lonegan. In fact, in a separate interview with Renshaw, Doherty excoriated Christie for the tight deadline.
I feel the timeline is artificially restrictive. Not many people can get 1,000 signatures in that short a time. It’s not inclusionary, it’s exclusionary. I think the governor was ill-advised and he should make a change.
Of course the only change Christie could make would be to call off a separate special election and run the US Senate election at the same time as the governor’s and all the legislative races. This he will not do. (See below.)
At 4:57 p.m., Nick Purpura answered Mr. Mahon’s e-mail and copied CNAV on that answer. “Please forward to Steve that we are behind him 100%,” he said.
Then at 6:29 p.m., Steve Lonegan wrote back to CNAV: “Yup. We will file more than 1,000…and we will win.”
Why the tight deadline?
Governor Christie forced this tight June 10 deadline by scheduling a special election on October 16. By law (NJSA 19:23-14 et seq.):
- A primary must take place sixty-four days ahead of its general election. Or else anyone seeking nomination by petition must get his signatures in sixty-four days ahead.
- A nominating petition for a primary must be in to the Division of Elections sixty-four days ahead of the primary.
June 10 falls 128 days before October 16.
Why the October 16 date? Mainly to keep Democrat Cory Booker, the most likely Democratic candidate for Senate, from juicing Democratic turnout in the November general election. But maybe also to make sure no one other than Cory Booker could even qualify for the primary. Democratic Congressmen Frank Pallone (6th) and Rush Holt (12th) might challenge Booker, if they can gather their own signatures fast enough. Booker hasn’t said a word since Frank Lautenberg, who held the now-open Senate seat, died.
No reporter, other than The Star-Ledger’s Jarrett Renshaw, even knew Steve Lonegan was thinking of running. (Renshaw even scooped the reporters on the Fox News Channel.) And Renshaw duly noted this: Steve Lonegan is the first candidate, of either party, to say definitely he is gathering signatures to run in that primary.
And if Salanitri, Purpura, and Mahon are right, Steve Lonegan could win the special Senate primary by default. In which case the special Senate election will become the first pure test of whether reform-minded voters will turn out.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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