Steve Lonegan, the conservative former mayor of Bogota, formally entered the 2009 governor's race today.

Lonegan, one of the most outspoken conservatives in New Jersey, also ran in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2005, finishing a distant fourth in a seven-person field.

Lonegan has since snared headlines for leading the attacks on Democratic initiatives, most prominently Gov. Corzine's plan to raise tolls to cut state debt and a public question on borrowing to fund stem cell research. While protesting the toll plan at a public hearing Lonegan was arrested, further raising his profile.

In making his announcement this afternoon, Lonegan pledged to cut government spending and overturn two influential, and controversial, state Supreme Court decisions: one requiring all towns to provide affordable housing and one forcing increased state support for schools in 31 historically poor, urban areas.

The only other person formally running for governor right now is Assemblyman Rick Merkt, another conservative Republican. Gov. Corzine, however, has informally said he intends to run and the New Jersey political world is keeping an eye on Chris Christie, the U.S. Attorney who is in his last day on the job and is widely cited as Republicans' best chance in 2009.

Gannett New Jersey's coverage of Lonegan's announcement:

Lonegan's web site:

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