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Senator Christopher J. Connors. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Connors won’t seek re-election to State Senate this year

Opening in solidly Republican Ocean County seat may lead to intense primary fight

By Joey Fox, January 03 2023 4:25 pm

State Sen. Christopher Connors (R-Lacey), an Ocean County Republican who has served in the state legislature for more than three decades, announced today that he will not seek re-election in 2023.

“This was certainly a difficult decision, but I feel in my heart that this is the right time to step aside, especially as running for re-election would require serving a four-year term,” Connors said in a statement. “I can take comfort in fulfilling my final year in the Senate knowing that I served my constituents to the best of my ability, always placing their best interests and good governance before partisan politics or special interest agendas.”

Connors, 66, is the son of former State Sen. Leonard Connors (R-Surf City), who represented the 9th legislative district from 1982 until 2008. The younger Connors joined the Assembly in 1990 and served alongside his father until 2008, when his father retired and he took his place.

Connors paid tribute to his father, who died in 2016, in his statement today.

“I want to pay tribute to my late father, Senator Leonard T. Connors, Jr., for consistently instilling in me the qualities of a dedicated public servant, that begins with being responsive to and respectful of the people you were elected to represent,” he said. “He always followed his moral compass and was the greatest father and mentor a person could ever have by their side.”

Connors’ decision sets up what may become an intense battle for his seat, which is solidly Republican and is home to a number of ambitious Ocean County politicians.

Looming over the contest is Ocean GOP Chairman George Gilmore, who regained control of the county party last summer in a stunning upset. Gilmore has struggled to unify the party after his close win, and his preferred candidates have had a mixed record, with some wins and some losses; the fight over a powerful Senate seat would be his biggest test yet.

Democrats don’t stand a chance of winning any of legislative seats in the 9th district, which covers the southern portion of Ocean County. Connors was re-elected to his final term in 2021 with 69% of the vote.

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