If you want to be governor and you don’t have the early backing of the party machines, it might help to be the civilian alter ego of Captain America, which happens to be the case for the aptly named Steve Rogers.
Nutley Commissioner Rogers wants to run for governor of New Jersey and is now sizing up the terrain in advance of an announcement in the coming weeks. A military man who served his country in naval intelligence and a cop who worked for the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign as a security expert, the Republican told PolitickerNJ that he thinks the timing is right in the wake of Trump’s unconventional national victory earlier this month. He also sees problems in the state that he believes to be uniquely qualified to solve.
“I want to help New Jersey’s city’s,” said Rogers, who was first elected to local office in 2012 and reelected this year. “The key to turning the state around is to bring economic development and jobs to our cities.” If elected governor, Rogers – who serves as commander of Nutley’s detective bureau – said he would take a no-nonsense attitude into removing the red tape bureaucracies that have put New Jersey’s urban economy in a stranglehold.
Tapinto first had the story about the incipient statewide candidacy of Rogers, who earlier this week reached out to all of the county Republican Party chairs in the state to express to them his interest in sitting down to discuss his plans.
Rogers would be the only candidate in the contest – in either party – with significant military experience.
His bio on his town’s website reads like a modern day retelling of Homer’s Odyssey adventure. He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era, then worked as a police officer in East Orange. In 1976, he joined the Nutley PD.
Commissioner Rogers enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves in 1981 – and studied U.S. military intelligence and other national security subjects at many schools including the U.S. Naval War College Newport, R.I. In the mid 1980’s he was assigned to brief U.S. military personnel on military matters related to the Soviet Union and other nations hostile to the United States.
Soon after the terrorist’s attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Commissioner Rogers was recalled to active duty and assigned to the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence in Norfolk, Virginia. He was promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander and assigned to the U.S. Northern Command as a Senior Naval Intelligence Officer for the FBI National Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington D.C.
A buttoned up naval officer who wants to run a substantive statewide campaign for governor, Rogers told PolitickerNJ, “You will never hear me say anything negative about another candidate. I will criticize people’s policies, but them personally.”
So far, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Hillsborugh) and Ocean County businessman Joe Rullo are the only formally declared Republican candidates in the 2017 governor’s contest in New Jersey. Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno is expected to announce soon. Comedian Joe Piscopo has also expressed interest in running.
On the Democratic side, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), and former Clinton Undersecretary of the Treasury Jim Johnson have all declared. Tom Byrne, son of former Governor Brendan Byrne, is mulling. So is state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth).
The Green Party is putting up the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale of Highland Park.