New Jersey Republicans can rest easy, as Assembly Republican Executive Director Rick Wright did have a John McCain sign on his front lawn this autumn after all - even if the yard space was shared with a Barack Obama sign.
The hot-button question of the contents of Wright's lawn was injected into state politics this weekend when gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan, appearing on NJN's "On the Record" with host Michael Aron, responded to Wright's defense of Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany) by raising the issue.
"Mike, Mike, you want to ask Rick Wright a question for me?" Lonegan said to Aron. "Ask him whose sign he had for president on his front lawn this last election. That will tell you something about the Republican Party in New Jersey... From what I understand, and the photos I see, it was Barack Obama's."
The Obama sign, Wright said, was put there by his Democratic wife, Susan (he prefers that her last name not be used). The two met when she worked across the hall from him at the Assembly Democrats' office, and she now works as a Deputy Attorney General.
"My feeling is that if Steve Lonegan's campaign is built on spying on my house and not worrying about property taxes and spending, that's the reason why Steve Lonegan is not doing so well," Wright said. "What Lonegan failed to mention was that when they took the picture, there was a McCain sign in the front lawn."
Not only that, but unlike the Obama sign, the McCain sign was visible at night.
"My McCain sign had spotlights on it. My wife's sign did not," Wright said.
The feud is just one manifestation of a larger split between Lonegan, the leader of the conservative wing of the state's Republican Party, and its more mainstream members. To the consternation of the establishment Republicans, Lonegan fielded construction company owner Luciano Signorino to challenge DeCroce in the June Republican Party.
Lonegan said he did not know who took the picture of Wright's house, but saw it after it circulated the internet.
"His wife is, if I'm not mistaken, an employee of the Attorney General's office. So that's fine, good," he said. "Let other people decide what that means... The question becomes does all of this influence of Jon Corzine on his household's income impact the advice he gives the Republican caucus?"
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