“We need to get back to basics,” Lonegan said, promising to “lead by example” by encouraging other Republican candidates to campaign on issues like taxes, school funding and affordable housing. He vowed to cut the size of state government by no less than 20 percent, ordering layoffs and shuttering departments.
“Jon Corzine thinks government has all the answers,” Lonegan said. “We stand on opposite sides of the spectrum. …It is time to take back New Jersey and put taxpayers first.”
Lonegan joins Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Morris) as declared contenders for the Republican nomination in 2009. Other possible GOP candidates who have yet to announce their intentions are Christie, whose last day in office is today, and Princeton biotech executive John Crowley.
Lonegan said his conservative credentials will give the party the best chance to beat Corzine, who he said has “failed” New Jersey. He praised the conviction record amassed by Christie — the likely favorite among party leaders should he choose to run — but said his background as an attorney makes him less equipped to handle the state’s economic needs.
Corzine brushed off Lonegan’s criticism and defended his record.
“I think we’ve done an outstanding job given the difficulties sweeping across this country,” the Democratic governor said following an event in Sayreville this morning.
He said he “will let the Republicans have their fight” until the primary is over, “and we’ll go from there.”