Friday, March 28, 2008

What's the rush?

The NJ GOP has gone from rags to riches with U.S. Senate candidates this week. Last week a high ranking party official told me it was "maddening" that the party's efforts to recruit a viable candidate to challenge Frank Lautenberg were not bearing fruit.

This week, to borrow a phrase from Monmouth GOP chairman Adam Puharic, the Republican gene pool got deeper. There are two new candidates in the mix; Andy Unanue, the Goya heir who declared on Easter from his family vacation in Colorado, and John Crowley, who has yet to declare but would seem to have stronger credentials and more money to fund a campaign.

Unanue was "screened" by phone from Colorado and was endorsed by the Monmouth, Ocean and Atlantic county screening committees and conventions. The Mercer County GOP convention withheld judgement, giving their executive committee the power to award an endorsement, in anticipation of Crowley entering the race. Mercer's move makes sense. Monmouth, Ocean and Atlantic's moves are puzzling. The filing deadline for candidates to submit their petitions is not until April 7.

In an interview with the Asbury Park Press editorial board earlier this year, Puharic defended his controversial screening process as one that assures Republican candidates are "bullet proof" from character attacks. Unanue might end up being a great candidate, but he is not "bullet proof" as he as already taken hits in the press from a primary opponent and the Lautenberg sleaze machine.

Crowley has outstanding credentials and a moving life story. He would appear to be "out of central casting," literally. A Hollywood movie about his life staring Harrison Ford is slated to come out this year. Maybe he has some dirt that will come out too. Time will tell, and there is still time.

Would anyone be shocked if Unanue withdraws this week in favor of Crowley? I don't think that would be earth shattering news. If Crowley is a good as his reviews, it wouldn't shock me to see State Senator Joe Pennacchio withdraw either.

If Crowley gets in the race, and indications are that he will, the Monmouth, Ocean and Atlantic GOP organizations will look retarded, to borrow an other phrase from Puharic.


Teddy Roosevelt said...

Wait a minute.
I will be the first to admit that Pennachios manifesto from 17 years ago is an issue but it is one that can be dealt with.

What do we know about Unaue or Crowley. They have money. is that our criteria now? Unaue already seems to be developing his own set of negatives.
As to Crowley's life story, I am going to go out on a limb here. I am always skeptical of people who highlight family tragedies in a political bio. I feel very uncomfortable with people who try to capatilize on that type of thing.
Joe Pennachio is not a perfect candidate and is probably not the best the party could have come up with but he has a proven legislative record as a solid Republican. He did really well getting party backing in the northern half of the state when the annointed "Easterbrook" was still in the race. That has to count for something.

You have to ask yourself why this desperate attempt by Monmouth county and Tom Wilson to find an "alternative" Is it just the defeatist "conservatives can't win in NJ" (like They can not win in Mass. somebody let Romney know that) Or did he step on the toes of some Monmouth County official and now it is payback time.

This is the same crap they pulled on Schundler. If the party had backed him the first time he might have won and we would have saved ourselves a lot of grief.

Once again the Republican Party in NJ will destroy itself with petty jealousies and ego trips.

This whole process also shows what a joke Puharics screening process is. They made their decision based on a phone interview with a last minute candidate. "retarded" doesn't do it justice.

Art Gallagher said...

As usual you make good points TR.

I agree that both Unaue and Crowley haven't been vetted. We've seen the results of that this week with Unaue. As Mike Halfacre said in the APP this week, "if you're explaining, you're losing."

Crowley shows a great deal of promise and I would be surprised if there is any damaging material to come out on him. His candidacy could be a "game changing event" to coin another Puharicism.

I don't see Crowley using a family tragedy for political purposes. The tragedy of his children's disease is not what is inspiring about him. How he dealt with it is what is inspiring about him. When you throw in his education, career accomplishment and military service, the guy is a dream candidate. To turn him down would be like the Jets turning down an even up trade of Peyton Manning and Chad Pennington.

Pennacchio did do an admirable job gaining party support even before Estabrook withdrew. However, manifesto or not, he was a very long shot to beat Lautenberg.

Unfortunately, money does matter. If Joe Pennacchio had $20 million to blow on a campaign, we wouldn't be having this conversation and the manifesto story wouldn't have broken until October.

This is not the same situation as the Schundler debacle in 01. Bret beat the establishment in the primary and did so by increasing Republican registrations (including me). The party made a big mistake not rally supporting Bret, and we are still paying for that. I still think had the 01 campaign not been derailed by 9/11, Bret could have won that race.

I think this process, and a competitive primary can be good for the party. It can increase participation in the party and reduce the retards', I mean bosses', power.

Eric Sedler said...

I'm with you Art, except I understand that counties aren't going delay conventiosn because of logistics, and well without a US Senate race to vote on, there would be increasingly less turnout.

Mercer made it's decision simply because Crowley's from there, I'm not sure if any other's will, I'd have no problem with it, but I also have no problem with them going forth. It doesn't look like Crowley really wants to get on the line's anywhere either.

It's the voters that will decide on June 3rd though, and as we saw with Schundler in 01' and Forrester in 02', county lines are not the "be all and end all".

At this point with the race where it is, I'm sitting back and enjoying the show, nothing would suprise me except Murray dropping out or holding hands with Tom Wilson.

Lightshines said...

I searched high and low to find anyone who had ever heard of Unaue, and I search so far that I even reached out to Elvis, who explained everything. Sometimes you just can't help falling in love.

Adam said,
only fools rush in
but he couldn’t help
falling in love with U(naue)

What the hey
since the pool is “thin”
We’ll risk it all falling in love with U(naue)...

Like a river flows, surely to the sea
Puharic’s gone and plucked a candidate from a tree..
He’ll lose this hand, like the other races, too
He’ll risk it all falling in love with U(naue).

Like a river flows, surely to the sea
Puharic’s failure grows, somethings aren’t meant to be..
Come this June, the party’s changing, too
For we can’t watch Puharic splitting us in two
for we won’t join falling in love with U(naue).

Anonymous said...

Hey Art.....found this on YouTube about John Crowley......This guy isn't using this to "highlight family tragedy in to a political bio" as our friend Teddy says....This is a guy who went out and did something extraordinary to help his kids....Wish there were more people like this in politics instead of the leaches that get in and suck off the system! Check out the news videos that have been documented over the years....

PS..they didn't just magically appear up on you tube because this guy may get into can see they all have been up for over an year!

Teddy Roosevelt said...

OK I will reserve judgment on Crowley untill I see more.

But you guys have to admit that how the party has gone about this process is flawed to say the least

Art Gallagher said...

But you guys have to admit that how the party has gone about this process is flawed to say the least

You, I and a few others have been singing that tune for a couple of years now.