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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin campaigns in Rutherford on September 3, 2018. (Photo: New Jersey Globe.)

Hugin is front runner to be GOP State Chairman

Ex-Celegene CEO ready to make second bid for post in seven months

By David Wildstein, June 09 2021 7:39 am

Newly-minted Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli has two immediate tasks: to pick a Republican State Chairman and to select a candidate for Lt. Governor.

The filing deadline to enter the race for GOP State Chairman is tomorrow and the leading candidate for the post is Bob Hugin, his party’s candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018.

The New Jersey Globe has learned that Hugin has agreed to seek the post.  It will be his second bid for Republican State Chairman in seven months.

Hugin jumped into a state party fight the day before the vote, after Doug Steinhardt’s resignation to seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination necessitated a special election.

Steinhardt’s choice, Michael Lavery, defeated Hugin by six votes, 24 to 18.  Ciattarelli endorsed Hugin in that race.

Hugin, who spent $36 million of his own money in a bid to unseat U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in 2018, committed at the time to raise at least $1 million for county and municipal races in 2021.  It’s not clear if that pledge still stands – and Ciattarelli needs Hugin to boost the state party coffers in his bid to unseat Gov. Phil Murphy.

Lavery has set a reorganization meeting for June 15, although the winners of 42 State Committee seats won’t be certified until June 22.  One race, in Mercer County, is too close to call.

Longtime Republican State Vice Chair Lynda Pagliughi is expected to keep her job.

Ciattarelli has 30 days from the certification of the primary election – July 22 – to select his running mate.

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