The message was completely clear: the Republican establishment is solidly behind Bob Hugin for U.S. Senate.
At a closed-door meeting of the four Senate candidates and the GOP county leaders tonight, the word was that Hugin was going to be the organization choice, and that the others should strongly consider coalescing behind the millionaire pharmaceutical CEO after the counties complete their own conventions and screening committees. In other words, have fun running at various insider contests — but don’t take it as far as filing petitions to run in the primary.
The blunt message — delivered by Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore — apparently offended at least one candidate. Hirsh Singh, a software engineer from Atlantic County, complained that the party leadership seems to be rigging the process on Hugin’s behalf. The 2017 gubernatorial candidate seemed unwilling to cede the chance to take on Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez to the GOP hierarchy. Singh has told Republicans that he is willing to come up with $2 million for the race — that’s just a fraction of what Hugin has reportedly promised to spend — and he seems unwilling to accept that he won’t win the nomination.
Sources at the meeting say that Brian Goldberg, who lost the GOP primary four years ago, believes he can mount a grass-roots effort that can beat Menendez without spending much money.