By Art Gallagher
“The Democrats created this district so that Republicans would spend resources fighting each other while they sit back and get ready for the general election and it looks as like that is going to happen.” So said Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore about the new 30th legislative district in an interview with MMM early yesterday afternoon.
Within hours what had seemed to be a certain primary between Senators Sean Kean and Robert Singer was apparently avoided. “Sean is talking to Singer,” said Monmouth GOP Chairman Joe Oxley, “There will be no war between the Ocean and Monmouth Republican organizations. Ocean and Monmouth were key counties in delivering a victory to Governor Christie and we will be working together to deliver Republican gains in the legislature.”
Kean later told the Asbury Park Press that he was uncertain about challenging Singer in the primary. Singer told the APP that should he retire, that Kean would face an Senate candidate from Lakewood.
With both Senators backing off their firm positions to run, it appears that cooler heads will prevail as a slate is chosen with an eye towards victory in November.
The new 12th district will not be such a heavy lift. “With three counties, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean, each having roughly 1/3 of the population of the district it would seem that each county should have a representative in the legislature,” said Gilmore. Oxley concurred.
Middlesex County Chairman Sam Thompson, Old Bridge, is an incumbent Assemblyman from the new 12th district. He has been angling to get the senate nod, touting the fact that he would be the only GOP Senator from Middlesex County and that his senatorial courtesy would give the Christie administration a new bargaining chip in dealing with the Democrats. GOP sources in the legislature and the administration are divided over the benefit of Thompson having sentatorial courtesy so long as there is a Republican governor. “The Senate seems to be slipping away from Sam,” said one senior Republican close to the process.
Oxley does not consider Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas’ primary bid in the new 12th to be a serious undertaking. “I don’t know who is giving Andrew his political advice,” said Oxley, “this is not fun and games, it is serious business.” Oxley was referring to Lucas’ comment on MMM that a legislative primary against Freeholder Director Rob Clifton would be fun.
If Clifton is awarded “the line” in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean, a Lucas primary victory would appear to be unlikely even if he runs a competitive race in his Western Monmouth base.