Add Bret Schundler to the growing list of Republicans who are upset with Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose's statements on behalf of her preferred candidate for her father's State Senate seat, Sussex County Freeholder Steve Oroho.
After Schundler endorsed Assemblyman Guy Gregg for the Senate, McHose attacked the Republican credentials of the 2001 GOP gubernatorial candidate. "Is this the same Bret Schundler who told conservatives that he became a Republican €˜because of Ronald Reagan’ while conveniently forgetting that he was working on liberal Gary Hart’s presidential campaign in 1984, the last time President Reagan was on a ballot?," McHose asked.
But Schundler says that McHose is very wrong.
"I never conveniently forget that I was a Democrat unrtil my mid-twenties," said Schundler, who was Mayor of Jersey City from 1992 to 2001. "I always tell people that it was only in the late-1980s that I opened myself to what Ronald Reagan had to say. What made Ronald Reagan such a great leader is that he consistently reached out to people like me with his words and actions. He didn't write Democrats off. He spoke clearly and compellingly in a way that coverted millions of Democrats into Republicans."
"In the 1990s, I got to know Ed Meese, who at different times served as Ronald Reagan's Chief of Staff and as his Attorney General, and Ed wrote a powerful endorsement of me in my 2001 race for Governor, saying I exemplified Reagan's leadership qualities. Truth is, Ronald Reagan was one of a kind, and no one compares," Schundler told PoliticsNJ.com. "But we should support people like Guy Gregg who do their best to follow in Reagan's footsteps."
"I'm supporting Guy Gregg's campaign for Senate because he stands up for principle and brings people to our cause in the same way. He has a record of leadership. He deserves every Republican's support," said
Bill Winkler, a spokesman for the Oroho-McHose campaign, says that Schundler owes the three-term Assemblywoman an apology.
When other prominent Republicans were dissing him, Alison’s family was very supportive of Bret Schundler when he was the Republican nominee for Governor in 2001," Winkler said. "He knows her number. He should have called and asked about it before attacking her.”
But then Winkler criticized Schundler for being a liberal. “He ran as a liberal for State Senate in 1991, when he was a bit out of his €˜twenties' (He ) even got the NARAL endorsement," he said.
“I don’t have enough space to go into the ups and downs of his record as Mayor,” Winkler said. “Suffice to say he’s evolved this way and that. In 2003, a lot of his supporters from 2001 were a bit surprised by his evolution.”
And Winkler also added Guy Gregg to the mix.
“I worked for Ronald Reagan. I was a Reagan delegate in 1980. Guy Gregg is no Ronald Reagan," said the GOP operative.
Schundler says he doesn't understand why Winkler says he attacked McHose. "Look at my statement — I did no such thing. I just calmly defended my reputation," Schundler told PoliticsNJ.com.
"I have been very public about the fact that I was once pro-choice on abortion. In the early 1990s, a pro-life member of my mayoral staff engaged me in moral discussions about the issue, and helped me see that abortion is wrong. If anything, my testimony should encourage pro-lifers that when they speak up for the unborn, it is not in vain.
"When individuals switch from the pro-abortion side to the pro-life side, we consider that a victory," explained Marie Tasy, the Executive Director of New Jersey Right to Life. "It is one of the many goals the pro-life community strives for."
Schundler says that Winkler is making thing up.
"I have been very upfront about my life and what I believe. But the person who commented that I became a Republican only after having sought to run for office as a Democrat is spreading an utter fabrication," said Schundler. "It is silly to say that it was 'opportunistic' for me to move from being a pro-choice Democrat to being a pro-life Republican. In Hudson County? Are you serious? These changes in my life were motivated by the very opposite of opportunism."