The gloves came off quickly in the Republican primary for State Senate in the 24th district, with Parker Space characterizing Steve Lonegan as a seven-time loser and carpetbagger in what will be a contentious fight in the state’s most solidly Republican Senate seat.
“How many campaigns does Steve need to lose before he realizes that voters aren’t willing to buy what he’s selling?” asked Space. “The fact of the matter is that Steve Lonegan has lost eight races for higher office. Each time he’s claimed to be the ‘real conservative’ in the race, and each time Republican primary voters have rejected him because what he’s claiming is false.”
Space, who has served in the State Assembly since 2013, and Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota who has run three statewide campaigns, are facing off for the seat of Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho, who is retiring after five terms.
In a statement following Lonegan’s announcement that he will run for Senate, Space referenced comments about Lonegan made by former President Donald Trump: “He’s always lost. He’s a loser …Always been a nasty guy. He loses. He’s a loser.”
Lonegan had supported Ted Cruz for president in 2016 and sought to have Republican National Convention delegates break party rules to stop the nomination of Trump.
Space also criticized Lonegan for moving to Sussex to seek an open legislative seat.
“Lonegan is once against carpetbagging into a district that he never lived in and has no connection to in an effort to hijack an elected office from local residents,” Space said. “It failed when he ran for Congress in South Jersey – despite being from Bergen County – and it’s going to fail even worse here in Sussex, Morris, and Warren Counties.”
Space also took a shot at tax increases in Bogota, where Lonegan was mayor from 1996 through 2007, although Republicans have had little success making that criticism stick against Lonegan in previous primaries.
“Lonegan increased taxes 9 times as a mayor, he increased spending and debt, and took taxpayer bailouts from Trenton – in fact, begged Trenton Democrats for them in writing,” Space charged. “Nobody with a record like that is going to convince people in Sussex County and the 24th district that he’s a conservative. The last thing we need here is someone carpetbagging into the district and pretending he can speak for us or represent us.”