Bookmark and Share    Former Assembly Republican leader Paul DiGaetano will be endorsing Steve Lonegan for the Republican nomination for Governor.

The announcement is to take place on Wednesday, February 4th and although it may not change the race to any drastic degree, it is significant.

As a former assemblyman and leader of the assembly, Paul DiGaetano has been there and done that. He has been a part of the establishment and he has fought the establishment. He knows where the bodies are buried and who buried them and he knows what it takes to be a Governor.

DiGaetano ran against Lonegan for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2005 yet the past rivalry has apparently not left DiGaetano with any ill will. Instead , the formal rivals will be joining forces.

Although he does not currently hold elected office, DiGaetano‘s endorsement is significant.

While much of the New Jersey Republican establishment is lining up behind Christie, much like they did with Rudy Giuliani for president, the more established names that Lonegan has on his side, the better.

Right now, it is easy to come out and declare your support for Chris Christie. He has some name I.D. and an established reputation for crime busting. He looks like a winner but he is still untested and a clean slate as far as where he stands on the issues. The groundswell of establishment support for Christie before he even made his candidacy official has been embarrassing and could be detrimental to our chances of winning in November.

POLITICS 24/7 has consistently suggested that we allow the candidates for the Republican nomination for Governor to earn the nomination and to state their cases and prove who will be best to carry our banner in November.

Yet despite the unknown issue positions of former federal prosecutor Chris Christie, incumbent Republican elected officials are rushing to endorse him.

Chris Christie just might be the right man for the job. I don’t know. What I do know is that I have heard a lot more about Steve Lonegan’s positions on the issues and I know a lot more about his thinking than I do about Christie’s.

So all things considered, even though it may be early to endorse any candidate for the nomination, I can easily understand why someone would come out to endorse Steve Lonegan at this point in the game.

Lonegan has made it clear that he is a candidate of change. A candidate who will get government back on track and back to basics. He has also made it clear that he is not afraid of the conservative label and conservative solutions to our problems.

Chris Christie has yet to let us know if he stands for change and he has yet to demonstrate whether or not he intends to water down a conservative approach to government.

So we can understand Paul DiGaetano’s early endorsement of Steve Lonegan for Governor.

Lonegan is not a blank slate and he has already put forth a plan that people can get behind. Christie has a long way to go before the same can be said of him.

The DiGaetano endorsement of Lonegan is a surprise and it could be the beginning of an upset in the making.


In 2008, New Jersey Republican county chairs and elected officials began lining up behind the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani for President. That helped to essentially make our earlier than normal presidential primary inconsequential. Their solid support for Rudy, combined with the high cost of running statewide in New Jersey and the winner take all delegate rules that they created, made New Jersey a state that would not have been worth the time and investment of any of the other candidates.

It just so happened that the establishments early support for Rudy didn’t matter anyway. By the time the New Jersey presidential primary rolled around, Rudy was out of the race.

Perhaps the Republican establishment should learn a lesson from that little experience and let the candidates work for our support rather than have us kiss their rings and give away the ranch.

Perhaps they should take a lesson from Paul DiGaetano and give their support to someone who has been giving us a reason to support him.

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