Bob Hugin who spent $36 million of his own money on a bid for U.S. Senate two years ago, is considering a bid for New Jersey Republican State Chairman, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Hugin has not made any decisions about running in Tuesday’s special election triggered by the resignation of Doug Steinhardt, who has resigned in order to seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2021.
Mike Lavery, a former Hackettstown mayor who served as GOP state chairman for five months in 2017, is already in the race to serve the remaining six months of Steinhardt’s term.
A NJ Globe tally of Republican State Committee members on Friday showed Lavery with 24 votes, two more than he needs to secure a majority of the 42-member state party.
But Hugin is popular among Republican insiders and has his own relationships with state committee members and county chairs that could supersede commitments made to Lavery.
Supporters of Steinhardt primary opponent Jack Ciattarelli had hoped to stop the Republican State Committee from being under his rival’s control during the first half of next year, but had not fielded a candidate before Lavery appeared to secure the votes to secure a victory.
Some Republicans, including former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady — had tried to coax Hugin into running for governor.
Bill Palatucci, the Republican National Committeeman from New Jersey and a close ally of former Gov. Chris Christie, has been calling state committee members on Sunday in search of votes for Hugin, several GOP officials told the NJ Globe.
Hugin gave up his post as executive chairman of Celgene in 2018 to challenge U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. He spent more than $40 million – most of it his own – but lost by a 54%-43% margin.
Celgene was sold to Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2019 for about $74 billion, and Hugin now serves on the board of Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company. He was also recently named to the board of Chubb, a New Jersey-based insurance giant.
This story was updated at 7:48 PM to include Palatucci’s role in the state chairman race.