Renegades have become the establishment in Northfield. What will that mean for the primary?

The New Northfield Republican Club is now in control of the Northfield Republican Committee. The committee chooses which candidates are submitted to the county committee and are chosen to run on the regular Republican slate in the upcoming primary.

New Republicans Jim O’Neill, a 2nd Ward councilman running for an at-large seat, and 1st Ward candidate John Dunn Sr. will appear on the same line as regular county and state candidates such as Sheriff and 2nd District state Senate candidate Frank Balles and Gov. Chris Christie.

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Incumbent at-large Republican Councilman Tim Carew and 1st Ward Councilman Thomas Polistina will be listed in a separate line on the ballot. Councilman Greg Dewees of the 2nd Ward is running unopposed in the primary.

The change in the balance of power comes two years after New Republicans O’Neill and Lisa Brown successfully challenged incumbent Republicans Cindy Kern and Brian Smith in the Republican primary. Last year, New Republican Jim Travagline defeated incumbent 2nd Ward Councilman Steven Vain in the primary. All three went on to win election in November.

“We honored the wishes of the Northfield city Republican Committee in endorsing Jim O’Neill and John Dunn for those two council seats,” Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis said of the ballot listing.

O’Neill said that “I’m very proud to be a member of the New Northfield Republican Club. Under the leadership of Mark Howell, we’ve now been officially recognized as the Republican organizing committee in Northfield. Over the past two years, we’ve grown from a handful of individuals to over 50. They’ve done a tremendous job of getting candidates, and I’m extremely excited to be on the Republican ticket.”

Carew, a councilman since 2001, said, “We certainly recognize that not having the line puts us a percentage back, no doubt about that. ... We realize that we have to educate residents on how the ballot is structured now, and that requires a little more legwork. We want to reach out to everybody and make that happen.”

Carew cited his team’s “proven leadership, with honesty and integrity,” adding that “I don’t think there is that experience on council yet. Today’s budget affects us five years out. ... The 2013 budget didn’t happen by accident. It hasn’t had to do with (just) the last 18 months, it had to do with the last five years.”

The primary is scheduled for June 4. The winners would face Democrats Frank Perri, Paul Utts and Gerard McGee in the at-large, 1st and 2nd Ward races, respectively.

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