Civil War brewing for the GOP shot in the 3rd Congressional District

After going back and forth, Jon Runyan now says he’s in for 2010 and is ready to be the GOP candidate for Congress against John Adler:

“I’m definitely 100 percent in this race,” the Mount Laurel resident said from San Diego, where he plays for the NFL’s Chargers.

That approach and attitude s making Ocean County GOP Boss George Gilmore none to pleased:

“If he wants to announce that he’s running and is the candidate no matter what then he is sadly mistaken,” said George Gilmore, chairman of the Ocean County Republican Organization. “I expressed the fact that we were all going to try to take a deep breath and allow time to pass and try to reach a consensus on a candidate. To the extent that anyone disrupts that, I’m disappointed.”

He continued to express his displeasure about Runyan’s approach:

“There are three counties which award the line for the primary, and I would expect that anyone seeking to run to achieve a nomination from all three counties would be doing so in a manner that would try to bring all three counties together. So I’m a little disheartened about his comments,” Gilmore said.

And there are signals that Gilmore may stilll have a candidate of his own in mind even though Senator Connors has said he does not plan to run:

While Gilmore is unhappy that Runyan is making the media rounds before getting the county chairs’ nod, Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill has been vocal about his intent to run.

“If it comes down to a primary and I’m supported by two of the county chairmen, that’s something to be determined,” he said of the prospect of an intraparty battle. “Having the support of two out of three counties is a different ballgame than one out of three.”

“Anyone who underestimates Mo Hill and his abilities is making a major mistake,” Gilmore said. “He presents himself very well, he knows the issues inside and out, and his military background is a plus. There’s a very large veterans population in Ocean County.”

And then there was this exchange from the county chairs, which unfortunately was buried deep at the end of the online article on page 5:

“I think Jon Runyan’s getting poor political advice about how to get the counties’ support,” said Gilmore, in a clear shot across the bow at Layton and Russell.

“We thought it was important for the public to hear from Jon directly,” said Russell, who also managed Chris Myers’ campaign. “I don’t see anything wrong about him communicating to the public how he feels about the issues, like heatlh care and taxes.”

“I had thought we were all going to work together to achieve common ground. Apparently there are some people who feel it’s either their candidate or no candidate,” Gilmore fumed. “Though I don’t want a primary, I’m not afraid of a primary.”

Don’t forget Justin Murphy who also ran in 2008 out of Burlington County. Primaries are not always a bad thing, but this doesn’t seem to be about the issues. We don’t even know where Runyan stands on many of the issues. This seems to be about who has the power for the Republicans. If this keeps going in the direction it’s moving, you can just get your popcorn ready for NJ3 GOP primary part 2 – the fight to make 08 look like a tea party.

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