Friday, February 27, 2009

The Conservative Case for Chris Christie

By Mayor Mike Halfacre

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.


ESedler said...

Plus that whole likeability thing...

Steve just sounds too angry right now, we know NJ taxpayers are frustrated, but they are too worried about the economy to be angry. Chris soulds calm, cool, and collected. He has a prescence that Steve just doesn't bring. Steve would be much better if he stuck to the issues and stories of his blue-collar upbringing. But he doesn't he gets lost in negative attacks that are tired and old, against a candidate that really is a departure from our recent bunch of candidates.

If Obama taught us anything, it's that an election is as much as about presentation and marketing that it is about issues. Chris has those qualities, I can't say Steve does right now.

I'm feeling optimisitic about our chances as well this year. Just going out and talking to regular folks...there is a real disconnect between Corzine and us folks on the ground. My good friend told me she couldn't stand him, and she loved's the small things that tell me that we really can't blow our chance here.

ambrosiajr said...

Well, at least here you make some sense. Nice work Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Be real...Christie is no Reagan! He may win, but he will need a better campaign when looking for votes from Democrats and Indys. Name recognition is only one part of a successful campaign.

Anonymous said...

And Lonegan is no Goldwater

Bullmoose1952 said...

Mike Halfacre, paraphrasing a line made famous by Lloyd Bentsen, “I knew Ronald Reagan, and sir, Chris Christie is no Ronald Reagan”. Ronald Reagan was a man of principle, which you have proven, in this endorsement statement to be devoid of. Conservatives might disagree on execution, but never do they compromise on principle.

Let's set a few facts straight, the Republican Party in New Jersey is infested with RINOs. One only has to look at the past three republican governors of this state to see what the leadership of the party considers "worthy” candidates. But, when the first time in forty (40) year the party could have tried to elect a true conservative, we saw exactly how the leadership of the party responded in 2001. Rather than closing around and devoting all possible resources to insuring the election of Bret D. Schundler, the leadership chooses to take their ball and go home. What an outstanding example of “rallying the party”.

Chris Christie's positions in 1994 very much have to be considered in determining if he is worthy of being the candidate for governor, of the Republican Party. What should we judge his character on sir? His history of be a candidate in this state is in the time period of 1994 in which case his party affiliation was one of convenience not principle. Judging him based on his past history, instead of trying to compare him to Ronald Reagan, a comparison to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be more appropriate.

A fair amount of your endorsement statement covers the "positions" that Chris Christie has taken on the issues. The common word on all of the issues is promise. Sir, my I ask a question, where is the word accomplished? Except for his accomplishments in the area of corruption, he does not have any accomplishments in the areas you mention.

In the one area that he has accomplishments, corruption, he is a very qualified prosecutor, but sir, how does this qualify him for governor? Unless he plans to directly control the Office of the Attorney General of the state, it does not really matter. As far as crime fighting, since he was a federal prosecutor, we have to evaluate his enforcement of the laws at a federal level. Let's start with illegal immigration. Christie had one of the poorest records on prosecution of illegal immigrants; between 2002 and 2007, Mr. Christie’s office caught and deported all of 13 illegal immigrants. This record can only be called abysmal. In a state where it has been conservatively estimated that 500,000 illegal immigrants reside (6% of the current population of the state), he could only find 13? In a state were we have cities declaring that they are “sanctuary” cities.

How about his record on the civil rights? How about his record on the first amendment? How about defending citizens who are peacefully protesting their governments’ proposals as the constitution of this great country guarantees? I think you know where I am heading with this, so I will go no further except to say Christie’s silence spoke volumes on the subject.

One thing that a person can never have enough of sir is principles. Once one starts to compromise on them, one will always find it very easy to just say; “Just this one time”. Soon this attitude becomes, “we had to do it this way”. Finally we wind up with the classic, “it was all we could do”. No, this is why one can never steer from the true path of ones convictions. The argument that “it is the reality of winning elections” is not just lame, but shows how the Republican Party is not raising to the challenge of this election in the belief it can offer the citizens a better government, but lowering itself to the level of the opposition in the hopes it can at least meet the mediocrity of the Democratic Party. What a sorry excuse for favoring one candidate over another.

Steve Lonegan has been the only voice in the New Jersey Republican Party that has over the last eight years maintained the high principles of conservative reason that Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater held so dear. He never compromised on those principles in his many confrontations with those politicians who wished to impose their “ideals” on the citizens of this state. It was also very convenient for most of the elected leadership of the Republican Party in the state to coattail themselves to his leadership. His victories against the current governor of this state reflect the fact that people will back him. This is obviously a fact that both you and leadership of the party have either overlooked or are afraid of. The old, “damn he was right, and we were wrong”!

In conclusion, winning with Chris Christie will not be winning; it will be nothing more than another compromise. As far as you being a “Lonegan Shill”, don’t worry about it, we won’t pin that label on you anymore, promise. Of course, in reflection, the name Judas does have a nice ring.

Anonymous said...

The inability of the Right whiners, er wingers, to engage in fair debate is staggering.

Anonymous said...

Don't be a hater, BM!!

Anonymous said...

Richard, please leave the scorching of earth to me. I have mastered the art of burning bridges.

Thank you, Rick S.

Anonymous said...

The negative Loneganites should read Tommy DeSeno's peice on Newt at CPAC:

He noted the lack of divisiveness in Reagan's speeches, and how he never missed a chance to appeal to Democrats and Independents. He suggested we all do the same with good, constructive ideas.

Richard above, take note: "constructive" "lack of divisiveness" "appeal to democrats and independents"

Where does Shaftan's strategy for Lonegan come into this scenario?

ESedler said...

I really think attacking those who don't happen to support your candidate personally is just one of the most immature actions one could do.

If Mayor Halfacre had chosen to support Mayor Lonegan, I would have respected his decision and moved on. There seems to be just a genuine lack of respect among some of those on opposite sides in this primary, and it really needs to stop. Last I checked, we are all adults, so maybe it's about time we behaved as so.

Calling people "Judas" and frequently using the phrase "cupcake" only makes you appear to be immature. And while your argument for Mayor Lonegan is framed with reasoning and principle, you diminish yourself by disrespecting and attackers others who do not see Chris Christie in the same light as you do.

Anonymous said...

Eric, well said. This party is big enough for everyone. We need to stay focused on the positive.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your upcoming run for national office Mayor Halfacre. Seems to be you've found a way to endear yourself to the party bosses. Meanwhile, I anxiously await some indication of Christie's current policy positions. If I have to judge him on his past, he falls woefully short. Bullmoose, you left out Christie's failures on gun rights. That snorting sound coming from Mr. Christie's supporters is reminiscent of something....isn't that the sound Rinos make?

Anonymous said...

Pity poor Steve Lonegan. A smart guy, saddled with supporters like Shaftan and Bull Moose, who can not muster anything but hate and name calling.

Christie, meanwhile, stays out of the gutter.

Is it any wonder these guys are on the "fringe"?

Anonymous said...

Richard, calling Mayor Halfacre a "Judas" mayor of a "piss ant" town only demeans yourself. Like Eric S. said, you are capable of making good points, why ruin any chance of making them by name calling?

This is unfortunately the method of Lonegan/Shaftan supporters, and why Lonegan/Shaftan= FAIL

Anonymous said...

It seems all to many Republicans are more interested in winning - regardless the cost - than standing for the fundamental party principles. If the way to win is being more like the Democrats than why don't we all just become Democrats?

Mayor, you try to justify what you are doing by claiming Christie is the best chance to win. However, that is not the case. He is trying to be middle of the road and win over Democrats and independents by being more like the Democrats than Republicans. … and we have seen what that has gotten us over the past 8 years.

Of course, if Republicans plan to win is by moving the party to the left, is that really winning? .... Or is that allowing the Democrats to win by letting them control our party?

Christie talks about "gutting" COAH, well why not just work to eliminate it. He will take a Democrat plan and try to make it more Republican rather than working to get rid of it altogether and implement a Republican solution in the first place. That is just one example of how Christie is trying to be more like the Democrats to try and win. If that is the way to win, again, why not just be a Democrat?

He talks about education and "school choice" by proposing charter schools? And accountability? He puts forward nothing different than is currently being pushed by Democrats and Republicans. Why not come out for vouchers? ... Or is he too worried about losing the support of the NJEA and the Democrats?

Christie talks about tax cuts, but says it won't happen in the first year and he has no tax plan to change the tax structure. Is that how Republicans are going to win? Isn't that the same thing Democrats are doing?

Mr. Christie is not attempting to cut the size of our government, he is merely talking about making it work more efficiently. He is talking about prioritizing spending, not eliminating it. I believe I heard our current president say (to paraphrase) the question isn't whether we have to much government, but whether it is working efficiently. Where is the overall fundamental Republican principle and solution and plan coming from Mr. Christie?

If Republicans want to win they have to do it by appealing to traditional Republican principles, not be moving to the left. That will win and you hear it in the people all over the place of all political backgrounds. Although they may not phrase it this way, they want a traditional Republican solution and specific plans to cut taxes, to cut the size of government, to cut spending, for school choice, to eliminate COAH, and so on. The only candidate that has all that is Lonegan. Your assessment that moderates will vote for Christie rather than Lonegan is incorrect, that is merely your unsubstantiated perception because you have no confidence in conservative Republican answers.

You say Christie is best suited to go against Corzine because the media and the left have painted Lonegan as conservative ... so it looks like you are allowing the media and the left determine who the Republican candidate should be. That is shallow and shows little confidence in Republican principles or solutions. To select a candidate because you think they will win moderate voters by being less Republican speaks volumes.

This is not about trying to attack Mr. Christie, but this IS about the Republican voters deciding the direction of their party. Do they just want to win by being more like Democrats, or do they want to win by being Republicans and then governing like Republicans to establish the party as the great Grand Old Party it is? If they have confidence in their party and its principles it will be the latter …. And, if so, they should support Lonegan.

Anonymous said...

God forbid someone disagree with the orthodoxy. Some on the right are as bad as the worst of the liberal media.

Anonymous said...

The "conservative wing" of the party would rather lose and point fingers than win. Simple as that. Imagine if they actually won an office for a change, they wouldn't know what to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Are these guys running for the nomination of the Conservative Party or the Republican Party?

Lonegan is a good fit for the former, Christie for the latter.

'nuff said.

Anonymous said...

My translation of Mayor Halfacre's post:

"Yeah, we all know that Steve is really the better man for the job with real ideas and real solutions. And well, yeah, we all know Christie isn't really a 'true' conservative but he pays it enough lip service. So, forget our principles because having an (R) in the state house is all that matters -- after all he's the 'most electable' -- just like John McCain."

Anonymous said...

Halfacre's post makes alot of sense, and the angry rantings of the Lonegan supporters have done nothing to change my mind about that.

In fact, "methinks they doth protest too much" and secretly, know what Halfacre says is true: Lonegan can't win.

Don't shoot the messenger, fellas.

Anonymous said...

I hear a lot of frustration and anger in the words of the conservatives/Lonegan supporters. While I am not conservative, I do understand the frustration.

The people who have run this party in New Jersey have been moderates, just as I am. While I share their political philosophy, I cannot say that I agree with a lot of the actions they have taken.

I remember 2001 when Bret Schundler earned the GOP nomination. He busted his ass to win while Don DiFrancesco merely assumed the nomination was his. When DiFrancesco hit an iceberg and was clearly not going to win, our state party pushed back the date of the primary to allw Bob Franks a chance to knock Schundler off. It didn't work. They then patted Schundler on the back, said "nice job" and walked away from him.

I understand the concerns of our conservative members when the party apparatus has put forth Doug Forrester (twice) for statewide office and then last year's A to Z Senate nomination debacle. The record, when included with the 2001 governor's race is not impressive.

Having said that, I don't believe Chris Christie falls into the same category as the previously failed candidates. He has an impressive record as a federal prosecutor and I disagree with the assertion that that record means nothing in terms of being a governor. Competence, in any endeavor, has become a rare commodity these days and is a true virtue for any candidate.

And let's not treat Steve Lonegan like some fringe right wing candidate. He's not spouting off about God, guns and abortion. His message is about fiscal discipline and he's got a track record on the subject. He's led victories over Jon Corzine policies already. This is not Murray Sabrin we're talking about.

If Steve Lonegan wins the primary, I would support him in the general election provided he does not run a slate of candidates against incumbent Republicans.

I would urge supporters of both candidates to treat each other with respect. Our state is a mess right now. We need a Republican to clean it up. Tearing each other down gets in the way of that happening.

If Christie wins, I expect the conservative wing to support him. If Lonegan wins, I expect the party to do everything it can for him.

Joe Hadden
aka Lugar96

Anonymous said...

The truth is that our last Republican governor was no better than a Democrat. Until this Christie proves he's better than that Christie, it doesn't much matter of he beats Corzine. Unless he's ready to dismantle failed Democrat initiatives like COAH, he's more of the same. I'm hopeful Christie will step up, but I'm certain that Lonegan will. Of course we conservatives want to see Corzine lose, but we're not willing to take another "lesser of two evils" candidate like McCain or Forrester. Christie needs to show that he stands for true Republican ideals to earn our support.

Anonymous said...

There is a fact that I haven't seen mentioned here... the unaffiliated voter base now tops both Democrat and GOP. If I remember correctly approx 30% bigger that the Democrats and 50 % bigger than the GOP. They are in fact the majority!

The only thing saving both parties in NJ is that they haven't found a way to communicate yet.

Keep giving us candidates like Corzine and Christie that march the Party Line and we will find a way.

We are looking now!

Anonymous said...

Just watched the debate. Christie, hands down.

Bullmoose1952 said...

Steve Lonegan cleans Christis's clock. Christie only makes promises of bigger government, but no plan of action on anything else. Cannot understand the difference between a doctor and a drug pusher. This logic falls in line with his position on illegal immigrants. Levine lost like a little child.

Anonymous said...


How would you feel about a Republican candidate who was an avowed tree hugger, who thought the courts were too tough on labor unions, who was in favor of universal health care and who wanted to pull the party "to the left"? Would you support that person?

Of course I'm talking about President Theodore "Bullmoose" Roosevelt, the original RINO. Apparently the irony escaped you when you chose your name.

Bullmoose1952 said...

To Anonymous: Do you have a clue to what you are talking about? He was a conservationalist who believed in the proper use of natural resources. As per his actions in the Spanish-American war, in which he brought together all levels of "society" his belief was that an individual in America should be allowed to reach his potential, regardless of social status. He believed in legal immigration as long as one integrated themselves into the American way, ie. learn English. He believed that businesses that exploited citizens were wrong. He also pledged to serve only two terms, inspite of that fact that since he accended to office via the assassination of McKinley he could have run for a second elected term. Just keeping this promise sets him far apart from just about all presidents (George Washington being one exception). As far as national health care, this was a response to the average worker have NO health care. He realized that it was better to have a healthy citizen, rather than a sick one. Remember, at that time, no business offered any health benefits. His wish was to empower all the citizens with the fundamental rights that all Americans have under the constitution. No sir, he was no RINO. The republican party he envisioned was one of a strong defense, smaller government and the right of every citizen to be able to enjoy the rights as granted to them by the All Mighty.

Anonymous said...

Great repartee!

But what does that have to do with the abyss we are in now?

Bullmoose1952 said...

Anonymous, thank you for your compliment. It is appreciated. Now, to why I feel the way I do about this race, and why I believe that Chris Christie is wrong for the party. I am tired of the "giving in", "the polls say", "we have to meet them in the middle" party platform. This is not a platform, it is submission. Vague ideas, half baked plans, and lack of passion will kill any candidate. True, in some cases (last presidental) passions and no plan can work, but something else has to be present, namely blame.

Halfacre tried to draw the following comparison, Lonegan versus Christie, is like Goldwater versus Reagan. Sorry, he drew the wrong comparison. Today's debate has confirmed something I have been thinking about for awhile. The true comparison is Lonegan versus Christie is like Reagan versus Bush. Yes, Christie is more like Bush in many ways. But, the worse thing that will play out, is that Corzine will use that with incredible effect. No matter what vague idea Christie would spout, all Corzine will say is "Bush". Just like McCain, Christie will not have to defend the party line, he will have to convince everyone he is not Bush.

Now, Lonegan and his conservative platform, and solid ideas can win. He does not have to defend against a ghost. His passion on the problems and cures for the state will drive Corzine to defend his management of the current situation. Corzine cannot use the excuse that Lonegan was Bush's lacky and therefore he was by default the problem. No connection, no illusion.

Just to take away any doubt, I have been sold on Steve's ideas for a long time. Why, because I was looking for a person who had the same, straight forward, no garbage, old fashion way of running government. Why shouldn't New Jersey give it a try again?

Anonymous said...

I think the better comparison is that Bret Schundler was Goldwater and Lonegan is Reagan.