Craig Heard, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the 2016 Republican Primary, attended an insider meeting of New Jersey Republicans in Washington, D.C. following this year’s primary, generating buzz about the White House’s interest in the CD7 Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7).
Lance has opposed President Donald J. Trump at key junctures, significantly on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and irritated the chief executive, whose golf course sits in Lance’s Central Jersey district.
Apparently Heard has Trump’s ear, enough to sit at a table of elected officials, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, state Senators Sam Thompson, Joe Pennacchio and Mike Doherty, and new GOP State Chairman Mike Lavery.
While Democrats jockey to take on Lance next year, the Central Jersey GOP has its eye on Heard with the understanding that he could have powerful allies behind him who want Lance out and Trump’s agenda assured.
Always rumored as a CD7 prospect, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) wuld never primary Lance, sources say.
Another Central Jersey brand name, radio talk show host Bill Spadea, is a vocal Trump fan, but doesn’t live in the district and had his own political fistfight with Trump political strategist Bill Stepien when the Stepien-backed Donna Simon beat him for a vacant assembly seat in 2012.
A third name, businessman David Larsen, ran three consecutive times against Lance without gaining any traction.
At the moment, Heard appears to have an edge.