Gloucester Endorsement—Tail of the Bull(y)

Gloucester Endorsement-Tail of the Bull(y)

Shorn of the usual connections between political machines and county vendors and out of power, the Gloucester County Republican Party is a lot more independent minded than places like Monmouth or Ocean Counties. It has that Goldwater independent streak, last year endorsing libertarian Republican Murray Sabrin for U.S. Senate.

That’s why it should have come as no surprise when the county chair indicated that she preferred Steve Lonegan to Chris Christie for Governor. It was just Gloucester County being itself. When state committeeman Phil Rudy, a Christie supporter, suggested that the county GOP endorse both Christie and Lonegan, it seemed a sensible compromise.

But coexistence does not seem to be what the Christie campaign is about. Christie’s people applied considerable pressure to Gloucester chair Lauren Oglesby, threatening her position and refusing to accept two excellent, well-heeled candidates for the Assembly because they didn’t embrace Christie either.

In a series of e-mails between the GOP chairs of Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester Counties, the outlines of a deal emerges, with the Cumberland and Salem chairs – along with Assembly candidate George Shivery – agreeing to remove a challenge to Oglesby’s chairmanship in return for her endorsement of Christie. The last e-mail ends with “Christie for Governor and Marchand and Shivery for Assembly.”

A pattern is emerging in the Christie campaign: They cannot tolerate dissent. They want every county to endorse them, every legislator, and they will use bullying and threats and to achieve this. Where does this come from? Is it part of being a prosecutor – of holding people’s fate in your hands? This one gets a bargain and that one goes to jail. This official’s brother gets a pass but that official’s daughter is made an orphan. No questions please, move along, no comment.

Recently the editor of a Morris County newspaper reported on the campaign donations Chris Christie took from an attorney whom he had given a multi-million dollar no-bid contract. The Christie campaign wants to argue that we mere mortals have no right to question this attorney because he had a long and distinguished career. This is America. And no, we are not a democracy, last I checked, we’re still a Republic. Citizen is as good as it gets, and any citizen can question the actions of any other citizen – even the President.

Besides, this distinguished attorney wasn’t so distinguished that he turned down the chance to represent a corrupt Attorney General who was seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. That’s right, his name was Ernie Preate, the state was Pennsylvania, and he went to jail. This distinguished attorney has a few of what could be charitably called undesirable clients that includes insider trader Joe Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications.

And there were questions about the amount this distinguished attorney billed on that no-bid contract. According to newspaper reports, he “billed the state $5.8 million, more than the $4.9 million lost through the alleged fraud.” Wow, it’s pretty bad when the crooks represent a net saving for taxpayers.

I don’t see how the Christie campaign is helping the Republican Party. Shouldn’t we be looking to convince people instead of bullying them into mouthing their support?

Shouldn’t the GOP allow individuals to follow their own consciences, as a matter of principle? And what value is a bullied, broken “supporter” anyway?

It’s been said many times already, even by Chris Christie himself, that he seems a little uncomfortable with policy. He doesn’t consider solutions his job. Not being the other guy isn’t a solution. But, if the Republican Party is to make a genuine recovery in New Jersey solutions had better be bold and real.

Moderates like Christie, always talk of big tents. Some genuinely believe it and enthusiastically work with conservatives, traditionalists, and libertarians. All this has done for statewide Republican candidates is produce losers over the 12 years. That’s why tents belong in a circus. Of course, given NJ’s condition… Christie’s campaign is less big tent and more big sticks. Instead of open debate, it’s bullying.

This bullying continues to cost us. If Chris Christie was leading with ideas, the party establishment would have two electable Assembly candidates in District 14 – a must win if we are to have the slightest chance of capturing the lower house of the Legislature. This failure to lead with ideas has led to the exit of a promising reformer named Debbie Sarcone – who has now emerged as a Democrat Assembly candidate in District 8. This is not a big tent. It is a big wind and it is blowing people away.

Republicans need to take a breath and think real hard about the Chris Christie method, ask tough questions and demand that he answer them. Mr. Christie is not the prosecutor anymore and he cannot bully his way to the governor’s office.

There’s a thing in his way it’s called a voter. This act is wearing thin.

Gloucester Endorsement—Tail of the Bull(y)