The sudden decision by Congressman Jim Saxton to retire after this term opens the door for an ideological, geographical and egotistical fight within Republican party the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time.
The 3rd Congressional District contains parts of Camden, Burlington and Ocean Counties. The Camden County GOP is relatively weak compared to the Boss factor of Burlington County power boss Glenn Paulsen and Ocean County power broker George Gilmore. Both Paulsen and Gilmore will surely want a say in the candidate, but first Paulsen will have to do battle within his county party that is currently raging over just who’s calling the shots.
In Burlington County, likely candidates appear to represent the factions developing within the county party. You have the “moderate” Republican State Senator Diane Allen who has run before, been contacted by the national party and has expressed interest in the seat. She has had a rather public spat over money and power with GOP boss Glenn Paulsen who is trying to have his next door neighbor serve as chair of the party so he can pull the strings in the background and maintain his power to dole out taxpayer dollars. He seems to have made his choice…
Paulsen said yesterday he considered BurlCo Freeholder Aubrey Fenton of Willingboro the best choice for the Republican candidate.
“If the national party cares about inclusion and African Americans, Aubrey Fenton should be someone they should get behind,” Paulsen said.
County Sherriff Jean Stanfield said she won’t seek the seat. Freeholder Bill Haines would also be a possible consideration.
But it doesn’t look like Ocean County is very anxious to see another candidate from Burlington…
It’s high time (we) got a congressman from Ocean County, said Mayor Leonard Connors
County GOP Chairman George Gilmore said Ocean County has more Republican voters than either the parts of Burlington or Camden counties in the 3rd District.
According to the Ocean County Observer…
Among those he said who he expects are interested in the nomination from Ocean County are Freeholders John P. Kelly, Joseph H. Vicari and Gerry P. Little, County Clerk Carl W. Block, State GOP Committeewoman Virginia Haines, and Connors and Rumpf.
Kelly has all but said he will run for the seat and would probably be the lead candidate from the county. Little said it was to early to think about it, but he was flattered to be considered. This’ll probably move fast so he better start thinking. Haines wants to clear it with Boss Paulsen before deciding. Block will keep his eye on the local scene for now and Vicari wasn’t available for comment in the story.
Ultimately, the question will probably be who can raise the money to mount a credible challenge to Senator John Adler who has already declared his candidacy and has raised over $200,000.
The national Republican Party is pretty much broke and Saxton could retire with his money meaning the potential GOP candidate will have to bring something to the table and get busy to raise the necessary funds for the Republicans to maintain their hold on the seat?
How will the intra-party squabble between Paulsen & Allen affect her ability to fund what is shaping up to be a difficult primary. Will Paulsen be able to call in enough favors to finance an effective campaign with a candidate of his liking that will appeal to the voters of the district? It’s unlikely that Paulsen would let Ocean County have the candidate and clear that Ocean County is ready to have their say. The question of who is the more powerful GOP boss will certainly be tested in a matchup of Gilmore and Paulsen and while primaries are a good thing, this would appear to be shaping up as a bruising contest for power.
With Allen being Pro-Choice, you would figure groups will be helping fund a candidate against her. The Club for Growth may look for a candidate they could back. Those fun “marriage protection” folks will be looking to save society as well. Who knows what other fun activists may want to have their voices heard. You have gender, race, ideology, money and all the makings for a hotly contested primary campaign on the Republican side of the aisle.
You can visit Senator Adler’s Congressional Website while you watch the show.