TRENTON - Flattening the back chatter out there that he might return to his Assembly seat in the aftermath of Saturday's convention, where he lost to State Sen.-elect Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan Twp.), Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) said he's running in the Republican Primary --"put it in stone."
"I'd rather die than not run in that primary," said Doherty, doubling down on a quote over the weekend that wild horses couldn't keep him from an off the line challenge of Karrow.
"This is going to be a battle between establishment RINOS (Republicans in name only) and conservative true believers," Doherty told PolitickerNJ.com.
Despite a disappointing showing Saturday, Doherty said he means to activate his conservative pro-life base and remains confident that based on past victories over her, he can defeat Karrow.
"As long as RINOs keep throwing me under the bus, they give me no option but to run against them," said the veteran assemblyman, who ran to Karrow's right in their matchup on Saturday, and who means to run to her right in the June primary.
"I have the better fiscal record than Marcia, who's supported bonding without voter approval," Doherty said.
The assemblyman said if didn't follow through on his plan to challange Karrow for the 23rd District Senate seat, he would face the equally challenging task of having to go back before the joint county committee to win approval in what is already a three-man field.
"Either way I'd have to bust a nut," Doherty said.
Better to put his head down and go for the senate seat, he argues.
"I'm pro life, Marcia's pro aboriton, I've got an A+ rating from the NRA, I'm a military veteran and I'm a middle class guy," the assemblyman said. "I'm not surpirsed by what happened on Saturday. I never would have been a freeholder or an assemblyman had I relied on the support of the county committee."
Doherty said he does not yet know whether he would endorse candidates for the two Assembly seats he and Karrow are vacating.
"I'm waiting to see who all the candidates are, but I'm leaning toward running by myself," Doherty said.
Even as Doherty prepared for an anti-establishment challenge to Karrow, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. released a statement firmly endorsing Karrow.
“I’m proud to endorse Marcia’s bid for re-election,” said Kean. “I’m confident that as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, she will dedicate herself to find the common-sense solutions that will make New Jersey more affordable. Her strong record of protecting the conservative rural values of her district and standing up to tax increases will be a vital asset to the Republican caucus.”
Kean also pledged to provide whatever resources necessary, including financial assistance, to the winner of Saturday's convention, and in accepting his support, Karrow perhaps inevitably in this heavily Republican district, sounded a fiscally conservative tone.
“I’m honored to have Senator Kean’s endorsement, and I look forward to working with him in the Senate to tackle the difficult challenges New Jersey is facing,” said Karrow. “I plan to continue my work to lower taxes and stand up for smaller, more conservative and efficient government.”
On his way in to the Republican chairmen's dinner at the Princeton Hyatt tonight, Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan said he wasn't surprised by Saturday's results.
He and Doherty are allies, and Lonegan appeared at the convention in support of his fellow movement conservative.
"That's not Mike's forum," Lonegan said. "The county committee people don't always represent primary voters, and that's why we have primaries."
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