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Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. (Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.)

Lonegan keeps door open for State Senate seat

Ex-mayor and statewide candidate is running for Assembly in 24th district, says he’ll make decision about Senate within two weeks

By David Wildstein, February 01 2023 3:44 pm

Steve Lonegan has yet to decide if he will seek the open State Senate seat in the 24th district or remain a candidate for assemblyman.

“We’re looking at all options,” Lonegan told the New Jersey  Globe. “I do have a terrific base of supporters who are urging me to run.”

The western New Jersey district, which includes most of Sussex County and parts of Morris and Warren, was turned upside-down on Monday with the surprise announcement that Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho would not seek re-election to a sixth term.  Oroho, citing personal reasons, had announced his candidacy two weeks earlier.

Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Wantage), who announced his retirement from the Assembly early last year, quickly jumped into the Senate race.  He has now teamed up with two running mates: Sussex County Commissioner Dawn Fantasia and Chester Mayor Mike Inganamort.

The other assemblyman from the 24th, Hal Wirths (R-Wantage), said in November that he would not run for re-election.

Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota who moved to Newton last year, said he expected a final decision about the Senate seat in about two weeks.

“We’re not in a rush.  It’s an interesting situation.  Lots of interesting twists and turns,” Lonegan said.  “I’m just waiting to see what happens tomorrow.”

Lonegan filed petitions on Saturday to seek the Morris County GOP organization line at their convention on March 4.  Petitions are due on February 10.

The conservative leader has won primaries in Sussex before.  As a candidate for governor in 2009, he beat Chris Christie by three percentage points, 50%-47%, and then won 86% of the vote in a special U.S. Senate primary in 2009.  In his unsuccessful bid to challenge freshman Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) in 2018, Lonegan won Sussex County by a 53%-47% margin against John McCann.

Space has also been a strong vote-getter in the 24th.  A former Wantage mayor and Sussex County freeholder, Space outpolled his running mates in five consecutive Republican primaries.

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