Businessman Tom Macarthur receives the endorsement from the Ocean County Republican Party for Congress and will be listed on the party’s line come the primary, but it came down to a hard fought battle till the end.

The former Randolph mayor was one of twenty candidates vying for a chance at the third district seat being made open by Congressman Jon Runyan at the end of his term. However during the Ocean County Republican Convention in Toms River Wednesday night MacArthur was not the last man standing.

Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill and Tea Party candidate Steven Lonegan also continued their bids for the primary, forcing a vote at the convention which saw MacArthur win with 72 votes, compared to Hill’s 54 votes, and Lonegan’s 3 votes.

During his victory speech, MacArthur spoke of the shortcomings of the current administration, the need for lowering unemployment, and curbing taxes and debts while bolstering civil liberties.

“I’m running for Congress because I want to make a positive difference on the future of our company,” said MacArthur; an apparent mistake he did not correct.

Unlike previous conventions with universal support for a single candidate, there was notable divisiveness in the room.

Hill had a sizable contingent of support, many who were critical of MacArthur for not being a lifelong Ocean County resident.

MacArthur, now a fulltime resident of Barnegat Light, was quick to point out his roots in the county.

“My wife and I have had our roots here for eight years, we’ve been homeowners and taxpayers in Barnegat Light and we’re very involved in the community here and we’ve split our time between here and where we were for a long time now,” said MacArthur.

MacArthur said he understood the issues relevant to the third district, specifically bolstering the economy, rebuilding after Sandy, and preserving the Joint Base.

“What’s good for national security is what’s good for this region. We need to have more critical missions come to that base.”

Sign supporting Lonegan (Ilya Hemlin Townsquare Media)
Sign supporting Lonegan (Ilya Hemlin Townsquare Media)

Lonegan, though having little support amongst polling members, had visible supporters. Several of whom brought signs saying “What’s the difference between a Russian ballot, and an Ocean County ballot?”. A reference to MacArthur, a millionaire, funding his campaign with his personal money.

None of the candidates were allowed to address the room (other than MacArthur while giving his victory speech) and party chairman George Gilmore initially neglected to mention Lonegan when announcing those still declaring their candidacy.

Lonegan and his wife were seen leaving the room after the initial voting began and did not return however his campaign appears to be continuing.

According to a post on Lonegan’s campaign Facebook page made after the convention, “Tonight, the Party Establishment has spoken. They are rallying behind the man who they believe will be like them, not the one who will fight for you. Let's put them on notice. They haven't heard us for years, but together we can speak with a stronger voice and make them listen for a change. Please, send a message to the Establishment by lending your support to the Lonegan for Congress campaign NOW.”

Lonegan had initially said he would not run in the primary if he did not receive party support

Hill said he will not be running his campaign any further, and instead offered his support towards MacArthur.

“I pledged that if I didn’t get the county line I wouldn’t run in the primary and I’m holding to that. I am a man of my word.”

With several candidates mounting serious campaigns leading up to the convention and one candidate still claiming he will run, there has been concern over the unity of the county GOP.

However MacArthur believes he will lead a unified party into the primary.

“I think you’re going to see this county come together, as it always does, around its chosen candidate. We’re going to work hard together to keep this seat.”

Hill reiterated the parties unity, noting it was a “democratic process”.

“Tom won by a considerable number of votes and I think everyone will coalesce behind our candidate and we will move forward.”


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