The WorstGubernatorial Campaign in NJ History!
Locking horns at the State GOP HQ
Gingrich’s “Contract” vs. DuHaime/Giuliani’s non-campaign.Well, it’s not just me anymore. Paul Mulshine’s column on Sunday is the latest to question the strategy of Chris Christie’s campaign. Even Christie supporters like Alan Steinberg, Carl Golden, and Jeff Michaels have taken the time to add their voices to the growing chorus of concern – in writing.As a strategy, maybe we should call it the gambit of the non-campaign. It goes like this: You get a dream candidate with a built-in lead and you sit on it until Election Day. If the lead is big enough and things go your way, you’ll have some of it left on Election Day. This strategy was famously pursued by the presidential campaign of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a campaign run by some of the same arrogant people who now run the Christie campaign. America’s mayor was up by more than 20 points and saw his lead erode to where he was fighting for fifth place. These people were so sure of a victory they had the New Jersey Republican State Committee change its rules in short order to adopt a winner-take-all delegate rule for the benefit of Giuliani.
Which brings me to the latest from the chairman of that august body. Since June 17th, State GOP Chairman Jay Webber has refused to call a meeting of the New Jersey Republican State Committee to even consider voting to adopt or endorse the National Republican Party Platform. We are going into the ninth month of the year, and the State Committee has had just one of the four meetings it is required to hold. Something tells me that Assemblyman Webber is planning to call the next three meetings on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Less likely to face questions or do anything on those dates. If this was a company, Webber its CEO and the members of the State Committee its Board of Directors, would have a serious corporate governance issue.
When a political organization doesn’t have a clear set of positions for its candidates to campaign on – call it a platform – those candidates are likely to go out and try to come up with their own. And, this is what has happened in New Jersey.
More than twenty challenger candidates got together and came up with a “Contract with New Jersey”, a ten-point consensus document so basic that it shouldn’t offend anyone. But it did.
The candidates asked a prominent GOP operative to bring their idea to Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce and he reportedly wasn’t too happy about it. Why? What is the problem? It does say something about the level of non-communication between the Minority Leader and his challenger candidates that they were able to openly negotiate such a document among themselves, for weeks, without the Assembly Republican Victory’09 Committee even hearing about it.
Last week, three candidates and one conservative activist went to see Chairman Jay Webber about this proposed Contract with New Jersey. Also attending was a close confidante of Assemblyman Webber. Webber expressed shock that the candidates hadn’t followed the “proper procedures”. This is the same bogus argument he is using to avoid voting on accepting the RNC Platform.
This begs the question as to which “procedures” were in place in 2003, when Webber challenged an incumbent Republican Senator, or in 2007, when he jumped line to capture his Assembly seat. As I have heard in the past, where you stand depends on where you sit.
According to multiple sources familiar with the meeting, an exasperated Webber blurted out: “This doesn’t help Chris Christie because Chris Christie isn’t out there running as the Republican candidate.” Wow. Let me repeat that!According to multiple sources familiar with the meeting, an exasperated Webber blurted out: “This doesn’t help Chris Christie because Chris Christie isn’t out there running as the Republican candidate.” Wow, indeed! Ok, then what is he running as?
For the record, here is the proposed Contract with New Jersey that has upset the GOP establishment:
1. Eliminate legal corruption: Expand pay to play rules and Conflicts of Interest law to unions and special interest groups who are the recipients of public funds.
2. Pension reform: New Jersey’s pension system is broken and in badly need of reform. Only citizen representatives who are free from special interest groups can provide the change that is needed to make it more fair and rational for the workers and the taxpayers.
3. Competitive benefits for government workers: Taxpayers are burdened enough. All state workers, including legislators, must begin making contributions to their State-provided health care benefits.
4. Meaningful penalties for abuse of power: End the culture of corruption by stiffening penalties for violators of the public trust.
5. Election competition: Election reform to restore competitive elections by eliminating campaign war chests and opening up the process to regular citizens who seek to challenge incumbents.
6. Cut taxes and regulations: Cut taxes to promote private sector job growth in New Jersey.
7. True property tax reform: End unfunded State mandates and provide meaningful property tax relief.
8. Parental choice in education: Improve quality and reduce costs by introducing competition.
9. Free choice in health care: Increase individual choices and competition which will result in lower health care costs for everyone.
10. Stop the violence: Government’s primary responsibility is to protect the public. We pledge to devote necessary resources to end violence in our communities.
A platform of this kind was used in 1991 by Republican legislative candidates in New Jersey. I was one of them and I beat a 15 year incumbent Democrat Senator in one of the most Democrat districts in the state. As everyone knows, it had a great effect in 1994, when Republicans used the Contract with America to take control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. It seems to work a lot better than what the failed Giuliani campaign did in 2008.
Paul Mulshine reported that at least three GOP county chairmen – those in Camden, Gloucester, and Hudson counties – were trying to stop Assembly candidates from participating in the Contract with New Jersey. One of these, Gloucester’s Bill Fey, keeps turning up.
Earlier this year, Fey ran a public campaign against one of his own Assembly candidates over insensitive remarks that candidate made. Now, according to two sources who claim to have heard it directly, Chairman Fey allegedly made an insensitive comment of his own.
At a meeting called to discuss the selection of a candidate to fill the vacated slot for Freeholder in Gloucester County, Fey is reported to have said that he didn’t “want candidates who think all Republicans should be Catholic or support Ron Paul.”
Do you hear another WOW! Coming?
Some at the meeting took the comment to be a slam at pro-lifers, but in a week when the Roman Catholic Bishops have put out a position opposing “gay marriage”, who knows what he meant. Maybe Chairman Fey should explain.
Maybe Jay Webber should explain. Oh, that’s right; the Giuliani Geniuses will come up with a plan. They’ve been so successful to date!