Let me start by saying I have all the respect in the world for Steve Lonegan. In the past, I have even been accused of being a “Lonegan Shill” in the comments section of the Save Jersey blog. When it comes to New Jersey policies and the effect of those policies on our economy, Steve Lonegan has been a voice in the wilderness for a long time.
However, I have am convinced that Chris Christie is the best candidate for Governor.
While Lonegan is great on policy, candidacies based purely on policy rarely win. For right or wrong, winning candidates need to be more than policy wonks. Call it the “vision thing” or the “intangibles” or something else; there is more to winning elections than policy.
More importantly, New Jersey, and New Jersey Republicans, can not afford to lose this election.
New Jersey’ conservative wing must overcome the divisive cries of “RINO” and the alleged insult of being called the “establishment candidate”. The conservative wing must recognize Chris Christie’s positions, and yes, take credit for moving those positions to the right, while at the same time supporting the candidate and contributing to a victory in November.
One has to look no farther than to the father of modern conservatism, Barry Goldwater, to see that one’s policies are allowed to evolve over time and yet still be considered a conservative. Similarly, Chris Christie’s positions from 1994 should not be used as reasons not to support him in 2009.
A brief summary of Christie’s positions indicate he should receive full support from conservatives around the state:
He recognizes the importance of business, wanting to bring businesses back to New Jersey by cutting taxes and fostering a more business-friendly environment;
He promises to reduce or eliminate excessive regulation;
He promises to gut COAH;
He sees the revival of cities through market-based and business-based recoveries, not by throwing money at urban problems;
He will take on the Unions over overtime and holidays;
He will reduce taxes;
He promises to provide school choice, encouraging charter schools and increasing accountability as ways to solve the Abbot District problem;
His record on crime and corruption is unmatched.
All of these planks in the Christie platform have conservative roots.
Finally, for those that insist that one can not be conservative without being “pro-life”, Christie has been candid in noting the evolution of his beliefs, and that he is, indeed, pro-life. Congressman Chris Smith, a strong opponent of abortion, endorses Chris Christie.
And yet he is being given a hard time by conservatives? Give me a break.
Christie is doing what no recent Republican candidate has done: He is offering New Jersey a clear alternative to the failed policies of the Democrats.
It is true that many of these same positions are espoused by Lonegan, and that Lonegan goes farther right and has articulated them for longer, so why Christie?
As I said before, New Jersey and New Jersey Republicans can not afford to lose this election. For whatever reason, Lonegan has been marginalized by the mainstream media and in the popular culture as “too conservative” and too “right wing”. Not unlike Barry Goldwater in 1964, the very things that endear him to some turn many off.
Many moderate democrats and independents will vote for Christie over Corzine. Few of them will vote for Lonegan over Corzine. Admitting this simple fact is not “selling out”, as many on the right will wail, but it is the reality of winning elections.
In today’s accelerated political climate, perhaps the 16 years between 1964 and 1980 will pass during this primary election cycle, and to use an SAT analogy, Lonegan is to Christie as Goldwater is to Reagan.
When we win this election, it will be with Chris Christie.
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" dung droppings" ~ commenter on Frank Pallone's facebook page.
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"Retarded" ~ Adam Puharic, former Monmouth County GOP Chairman
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Pallone's Town Hall Meeting, Red Bank, August 25, 2009