Jeff Bell knows Jamie Fox.
The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate met the new Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner over a decade ago.
When PolitickerNJ asked Bell what he thought of Gov. Chris Christie selecting Fox – a noted Democratic strategist – to helm the DOT, the U.S. Senate candidate answered directly.
“He’s a great guy and a brilliant political strategist,” Bell said. “If you get Jamie Fox out of Democratic Party strategizing, that’s a service for the Republican Party. Let’s hope he stays out of partisan politics even if it’s just for a year or two.”
Fox sailed through his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday and received confirmation by the state Senate.
Bell does not appear to be coasting in his own U.S. Senate race, however.
He’s up against a juggernaut in incumbent U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a fincnailly well-connected Democratic Party brand name, who last week voted in favor of the resolution enabling President Barack Obama to authorize U.S. bombing of ISIS targets.
A day after that vote, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) declared the resolution “smarter” than the 2002 resolution authorizing then-President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.
Bell said he disagrees.
“It might be smarter politically, but I think it’s a mistake to draw a boundary around what we’re willing to do,” the Republican said. “We shouldn’t telegraphing. It’s not that I’m saying we need a bigger escalation. I’m saying ‘why limit yourself?’ They [ISIS] haven’t limited themselves. I don’t see why we should give them assurances.”
Booker went up on TV today and Bell was impressed – with the packaging.
The substance came up short, he said.
“I thought it was very well done,” Bell said. “Senator Booker is very good on television. He talks about all sorts of bipartisan things. The fact is he’s introduced a few bills with [U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and other Republicans], but they’re micro.”
Bell is lagging in the fundraising department, although he said he;s looking forward to an Oct. 7th event headlined by Christie.
PolitickerNJ invited the candidate to criticize the Republican governor for spending more time campaigning out of state while Bell squares off against a longtime Christie ally in Booker.
He says he’s a Christie fan.
“He’s making joint appearances with me, and is the headliner at the October 7th fundraiser,” the candidate said. “A year after his election it’s reasonable for him to accept appointment to the RGA [Republican Governors Association].”
Bell stopped short of endorsing him for president, but said he’s thoroughly impressed and likes Christie as a national prospect.
“I saw him for the first time onstage just the other day in Princeton and I think he is by far the most compelling speaker of any of the presidential possibilities,” said the Republican U.S. Senate nominee. “He compels attention from everybody in the room. I’ve never seen anyone accomplish that. Governor Christie does it without a script. It’s absolutely amazing. He’s a once in a generation politician.”
Bell said he plans to go up on radio again tomorrow with a two to three week ad buy – the same Gold Standard ad he ran earlier this month.
“I think we can sustain a reasonable campaign at this point,” he said.