ROXBURY, NJ – Succasunna resident Craig Heard, a businessman with a history of Republican political fundraising, today announced a GOP primary candidacy aiming to unseat U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th Dist.).

In announcing his campaign, Heard blasted Lance’s record, accusing the incumbent of displaying a “lack of leadership on key issues like the economy and homeland security.”

In announcing his campaign, Heard said his effort is “built upon a lifetime of accomplishment in business, education, community service, charitable fundraising and an unwavering commitment to conservative values.” Heard owns Long Valley-based Gateway Outdoor Advertising, a company that supplies advertising seen on trains, buses, bus shelters, trolleys, billboards and convenience stores nationwide.

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“Congress needs leadership,” said Heard in a statement. “I’ve spent my entire adult life working to earn my success, starting out as a clerk and working my way up to ultimately build a business, create jobs and make a difference in our community. Now I’m ready to bring that record to Congress.”

Around Roxbury, Heard is known for his extravagant annual Halloween displays at his house, extensive productions that include a pirate ship in his front yard.

He served as chairman of the County College of Morris Board of Trustees and as a member of the Roxbury school board. Heard is also involved in Roxbury Taxpayer Education Association Member (TEAM), a non-partisan group of Roxbury taxpayers and parents, and he is currently chairman of the Roxbury-Mt. Arlington Consolidation Commission.

Heard said his “top priority” is to promote in Congress the conservative beliefs of many 7th District residents and he promised “a total commitment to … keeping our country safe by destroying ISIS, stopping unvetted refugees from entering our country, eliminating sanctuary cities and putting an end to illegal immigration.”

He said he is particularly concerned about senior citizens. “Today, our seniors are taking a major hit on healthcare costs while seeing the value of their retirement income go down,” Heard said. “Obamacare is being funded by $714 billion in reduced Medicare benefits. We have to fix that.”

The walls of Heard’s home and office are lined with photos of himself with prominent members of local, state and national GOP figures, including presidents. He said he “immersed himself in Republican fundraising and supported conservative candidates” including President Ronald Reagan and a number of Garden State candidates for governor, Congress and state Legislature offices.

Craig noted that, in 1988, he appeared with President George H.W. Bush at Liberty State Park for a speech honoring veterans and was praised by Bush for being “an example of the community leaders we need.”

Lance, elected in 2008, is also facing a primary challenge from Oldwick businessman David Larsen, who has challenged Lance every two years since 2010 and nearly beat him in the 2014 primary.Despite the 3-way primary race, Heard is optimistic about his chances of winning the votes of the district’s more conservative residents.

“Our current congressman has the lowest rating by conservative groups for support of conservative values,” he said. “He voted to raise the debt ceiling over $4 trillion, and then voted for the continued funding of Planned Parenthood and signed off on Obama’s Trans-Pacific trade deal which is going to cost us millions of jobs.”

Heard said Lance has not stood up against the current Administration. “I see bad deals being made with terrorist countries like Iran, government directives that have handcuffed our military in the war against ISIS, unchecked and illegal immigration, 95 million people out of the workforce, 47 million people on food stamps, massive long-term debt and our constitutional rights continually trampled by Executive Orders,” he said.