WASHINGTON -- Alieta Eck, a physician running against Steve Lonegan in New Jersey's Republican Senate primary, picked up two conservative endorsements this week.
Eck, from Somerset County, was backed by the Independence Hall Tea Party Wednesday, despite Lonegan’s recent ties to Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-backed conservative group. On Thursday she is set to be endorsed by the Conservative Party USA, a relatively small group.
“Our PAC Board is very familiar with both Steve Lonegan and Alieta Eck," said the Tea Party group’s PAC president, Don Adams. His comments were in a release issued by the Eck campaign. "While we respect Mr. Lonegan, we greatly appreciate the intelligence and temperament of Dr. Eck.”
PAC Vice President Bill Green, a Burlington County resident, said Eck “is a proven leader and problem-solver who doesn't sit around waiting for government to fix things.” (Despite the fact that Eck has never run for, let alone held, political office.)
She has based her candidacy around repealing President Obama’s health care law and frequently points to her free health clinic as a better alternative for people who need care. She also has a less fiery public persona, which may help her appeal to New Jersey's largely-liberal voters.
The Independence Hall Tea Party operates around the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
"The Independence Hall Tea Party is a leading advocate for limited government, and I share their values,” Eck said. “With our national debt spiraling out of control and the federal government making massive intrusions into personal privacy, vigilance to this mission is more important now than ever. I am honored to receive their endorsement.”
Lonegan is far better known than Eck and heavily-favored in polls. But the Tea Party group argued that Eck may be the better general election candidate.
“We believe she would be the stronger candidate against the Democrat in the October general election,” the organization said in the Eck release. “It has not been lost upon us that if she were to win the Senate race, she would become the first female US Senator in Garden State history.”
Eck and Lonegan, meanwhile, each launched radio ads touting themselves as the best conservative option in the Aug. 13 primary.
Today Lonegan is going to New York to blast Democratic front-runner Cory Booker over a New York Times story detailing Booker’s business ties to some Silicon Valley moguls, and the wealth he has gained with their help in creating an online video company called Waywire.
You can follow Tamari on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.