Steve Lonegan, who unsuccessfully ran for governor as the conservative alternative to Chris Christie in 2009, said Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman should end his “poorly planned effort with no money” bid for governor.

“Just sticking your name on the ballot and running around in a helter-skelter fashion with no message, no support and no money is nothing more than a distraction and plays into the hands of those who support more government and oppose economic freedom,” Lonegan said.

Lonegan, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, a leading tea party group, cited Christie’s removing the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, opposition to health exchanges, higher top-end income tax rates, and battles with public employee unions for his opposition to Grossman.

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Grossman replied that if he had no message, he would be no threat to anyone, and referred to his campaign website www.

He said, “It looks like some of the big donors to Steve’s group foolishly invested a lot of money in Christie, and are afraid that I will show that their emperor has no clothes.”

Grossman, a former Atlantic City councilman and Atlantic County freeholder, is expected to formally announce his bid for governor next week at events in Atlantic City and Newark.

Grossman and Lonegan were both arrested in Middle Township in 2008 protesting then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s plans to reduce state debt through sharply raising tolls.

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Follow Derek Harper on Twitter @dnharper

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