Our friends at InTheLobby quote veteran NJ GOP strategist Bill Pascoe:
If there’s anyone who knows how Democrats play in this state, it’s Bill Pascoe.
He’s been on the wrong end of more than one high-profile statewide race in New Jersey; and his opposite was Steve DeMicco, who has been the leading Democratic strategist in New Jersey the last several years, and who – not surprisingly – is managing Gov. Corzine’s re-election campaign again this year.
In an insightful analysis of the Jersey race for Congressional Quarterly Politics, here’s how Pascoe describes DeMicco’s campaign tactics:
The main tool in DeMicco's toolbox is a hammer, and he finds a way to make every problem look like a nail. For DeMicco, the slogan he wraps around the GOP nominee's neck -- any GOP nominee's neck -- is "Outside the Mainstream." It makes no difference if the nominee is truly a card-carrying conservative (like Bret Schundler, whose 2001 campaign for governor I managed) or a blazing moderate (like Doug Forrester, whose 2002 campaign for Senate I managed). I've seen his campaigns produce ads that create such an ugly image of the opposition that the GOP nominee's own mother might have serious doubts about voting for her child.
Any one who paid any attention to New Jersey elections the last few years know this is true. Democrats went to school after the Republicans hung Gov. Florio’s $2.8 billion tax hike around every Democrat’s neck in 1991 – and they haven’t looked back since.
He also notes that even after weeks of primary campaigning, polls show that the Republican candidates are still largely unknown to voters, giving Corzine – and his vastly larger pocketbook – plenty of ammunition to help fill in the blank.
So who does Pascoe think is the better choice for the GOP – former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, or Assemblyman Rick Merkt?
Christie. And here’s why:
I'm not running campaigns any more, but knowing the power of the attack ads that are sure to come, I think Lonegan is the candidate who would be easiest to target. This is a man who once held a press conference mocking state affirmative action policies, and scheduled it on the holiday we use to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If that wasn't enough of a poke in the eye, his press conference was staged on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, in downtown Newark.
The ads almost write themselves.
Should Lonegan win the nomination, the moderate Republicans in New Jersey who raise the big money for the GOP nominees can be expected to sit on their hands. Lonegan would be vastly outspent, and would have only enough money in the fall campaign for radio and direct mail advertising, with just a bit of broadcast television advertising thrown in at the end.
You can read Pascoe’s entire piece here.