A fundraiser for Chris Christie’s presidential campaign is mulling a last-minute bid for the 11th district congressional seat.
Sources say that Mendham businessman Peter DeNeufville, is seeking support for the seat Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen will vacate at the end of the year – some say with encouragement from the former governor. He is expected to self-fund his campaign.
With a filing deadline just five days away, DeNeufville is on a tight timeline to decide if he wants to enter the race for the Republican nomination.
DeNeufville was the chairman of Voltaix, a company that manufactured chemicals used in the making of semiconductors before the company was sold in 2013 to a Paris-based company, Air Liquide. He also has a firm that makes early investments in technology companies.
He served as a U.S. Navy reserve officer and was on active duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as a trustee of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Nancy Hatch Dupree Foundation for the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University, and as an adjunct fellow with the Center for New American Security. He has a Ph.D. from the University of London.
DeNeufville served on Christie’s New Jersey Finance Committee and contributed $5,000 to Christie’s Leadership Matters for America PAC, $2,700 to Christie’s presidential campaign, $31,000 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee, $3,500 to Rep. Leonard Lance, and smaller contributions to George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.
A late minute entry by a wealthy candidate could further complicate the GOP primary for a seat the Republicans have held for the last 34 years. Frelinghuysen announced his retirement at the end of January, declining to go the distance in what has become an exceedingly competitive race.
The leading candidates are Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and hedge fund manager Antony Ghee. Ghee, a U.S. Army Reserve major who is seeking to become the first Black Republican congressman from New Jersey, has secured the organization lines in Essex and Passaic counties.
Patrick Allocco, a former aide to Gov. Tom Kean and fundraiser for Jack Kemp, is running a grass-roots campaign for the GOP nomination offering to use an American Idol-like technology to let constituents decide how he would vote in Congress. Attorney Martin Hewitt, who had announced as a primary opponent to Frelinghuysen, remains in the race.
Former Harding Mayor Nicolas Platt is still considering a bid.