A mayor and business executive who was previously largely unknown in New Jersey's third congressional district will have the chance to represent that district in Congress.
Tom MacArthur, a former Randolph Township mayor, handily defeated challenger Steve Lonegan – another former North Jersey mayor from Bogota – in a hard-fought and often ugly campaign that pitted the powerful Ocean County GOP establishment against a candidate with statewide name recognition despite few wins under his belt.
MacArthur drew early support from the established GOP organizations in Ocean and Burlington counties and trounced Lonegan – who, last November, lost a bid for U.S. Senate to Cory Booker – by more than 2,000 votes in Ocean County. MacArthur had garnered 7,260 votes to Lonegan's 4,988 with all but three districts reporting.
In Burlington County, the results were still trickling in as of 9:30 p.m., but sources were comfortable in calling MacArthur the winner.
"I just received a very gracious call from Steve Lonegan congratulating me on our victory," said MacArthur, on his Facebook page. "Thank you for all of your support! On to November!"
During the seemingly never-ending primary campaign, residents of the two counties were inundated with campaign flyers, robocalls and television commercials, with each candidate attacking the other. MacArthur painted Lonegan as a radical and out of touch with New Jersey voters, while Lonegan characterized MacArthur as being too far left for the taste of Republicans, especially on affordable housing issues.
In the end, the election likely came down to party support, especially in GOP-heavy Ocean County, where the Republican organization led by chairman George Gilmore holds significant pull over the party faithful.
MacArthur, an insurance executive whose connection to Ocean County is a summer home in Barnegat Light, will face Democrat Aimee Belgard in the general election in November.
MacArthur will likely be an early favorite due to the district's makeup. During the last congressional election cycle, the third district shed Democrat-leaning Cherry Hill and gained Republican-leaning Brick Township.