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New Jersey primary results disappoint conservatives

Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) takes the oath of office as a Senator on October 31, 2013, after winning the special election to replace the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.
Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) takes the oath of office as a Senator on October 31, 2013, after winning the special election to replace the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Conservative activists expressed disappointment with the results of the June 3, 2014 Republican primary election in New Jersey. They are willing to support some, but not all, Republican candidates who won their primaries yesterday.

All incumbents who sought re-election, won their respective primaries. This includes Frank LoBiondo in District 2, Christopher H. Smith in District 4, Leonard Lance in District 7 (now including all of Millburn Township in Essex County), Scott Garrett in District 5, and Rodney Frelinghuysen in District 11.

In District 3, Tom MacArthur, who had "The Line," beat former State Senator Steve Lonegan. The Independence Hall Tea Party Political Action Committee endorsed MacArthur and worked hard to help him. But Team New Jersey endorsed Lonegan, and claimed MacArthur is not the conservative he says he is.

Nick Purpura, an officer of Team New Jersey, expressed his disappointment to this Examiner this morning. In fact he expressed outrage at what he called "the ignorance of the voting public" in "electing the same old faces every time." MacArthur, said Purpura, is a liberal. He also said the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC were not what they claimed to be. He charged that "regular Republicans" had "infiltrated" the group and thus were using the Tea Party name but not to promote Tea Party principles.

Jeffrey Bell, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, won the four-way primary election for the U.S. Senate. He will face Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who won the special election to become an interim Senator after the death of Senator Frank R. Lautenberg last year.

Purpura expressed cautious optimism about Bell. Team New Jersey had endorsed one of his three opponents, Richard J. Pezzullo. They had three criticisms of Bell. They wondered whether he, being more than seventy years old, would have the stamina for a grueling campaign. They criticized his association with President Richard M. NIxon. And they noted his special trip to New Jersey to rent an apartment and thus establish a New Jersey domicile, as the U.S. Constitution requires.

"He doesn't even live in the State," says Purpura. "He'll be another one like Chris Smith." Christopher H. Smith keeps an apartment in his district, but he keeps his primary residence in northern Virginia, as does Bell. Nevertheless, Purpura urged conservatives throughout New Jersey to rally behind Bell. "Cory Booker will be another Obama yes-man," he said. "Will Bell betray us? Let's hope not."

Purpura also lamented the defeat, by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th), of his challenger, David Larson. Lance, noted Purpura, does not support extended oil drilling, which would enhance American energy independence. In fact, Lance supported the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in 2009. That measure died in the Senate, after the Climate-gate scandal broke worldwide.

Purpura noted one possible bright spot. Alieta M. Eck, M.D., of the Zarephath Health Center, took the nomination to run for Congress from District 12. Remarkably, Eck had no opponents in that primary race. She will face Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer County), who narrowly won the Democratic primary election in that district. (Incumbent Representative Rush Holt will not seek re-election.) Nick Purpura, commenting on the District 12 race, suggested the regular Republican organizations in the counties that contribute to District 12 simply gave up trying to capture that district.

Has the New Jersey State Republican Party given up trying to unseat Senator Booker? Purpura didn't speculate. But he did note that Jeffrey Bell was the closest thing to a "big name" in that Senate primary. Two of the other three are almost unknown. Murray Sabrin, the last, did not impress Purpura. "He's for [legalizing] drugs, and I can't support that," says Purpura. "Furthermore, I don't know his opinion on abortion." Murray Sabrin ran for governor in 1997 as a Libertarian. This is the second time he has run for Senate in a Republican primary election in New Jersey.

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