Bob Hugin will seek the Republican State Chairman post in Tuesday night’s special election.
He will face Michael Lavery to fill the post that opened after Doug Steinhardt resigned to seek the GOP nomination for governor.
Hugin this morning picked up endorsements from Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.
Hugin gave up his post as executive chairman of Celgene in 2018 to challenge U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. He spent more than $36 million of his own money by a 54%-43% margin.
Mike Lavery, a former Hackettstown mayor who served as GOP state chairman for five months in 2017, is a close Steinhardt ally.
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
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.