Bayshore Tea Party Group Co-Founders Bob Gordon and Barbara Gonzalez took to their Asbury Park Press blog yesterday to attempt to explain why they are challenging the 13th Legislative District and County Republican incumbents. In this post I’ll attempt to explain their explanation with the benefit of having spoken to them and having attended the meeting where they introduced most of their candidates. If I get any of it wrong, I suspect they will correct me in the comments.
Gordon and Gonzalez would probably object to the characterization that they are challenging the incumbents. They would say they are supporting the challenge, not doing the challenging. Just as senate candidate Leigh-Ann Bellew said she is not the BTPG’s candidate, but anticipates the group’s support. This a linguistic distinction without a practical difference. The challenge is a Tea Party challenge.
There were several citizens that are aligned with the Tea Party platform that had expressed an interest, or even a NEED, to run for office. Once this interest was expressed to the Bayshore Tea Party group, and other Tea Party Groups, it was decided that a full slate would be the right thing to do. Again, most of you reading this know that this was one of those actions that would be considered… necessary.
Translation: Bellew wanted or NEEDED to challenge State Senator Joe Kyrillos and sheriff candidate Dan Peters wanted to seek the office for the third time.
Bellew knows enough that a full slate will be taken more seriously by primary voters. She welcomed Peters’ participation and convinced Gordon and Gonzalez of the need to recruit four more candidates to fill the slate. Peters ran in the 2010 primary without Tea Party support, but because of a “disagreement “or “misunderstanding” between then GOP Chairman Joe Oxley and County Clerk M. Claire French, Peters was bracketed on the ballot with Anna Little in the 6th Congressional District and with David Corsi in the 12th. Little and Corsi had Tea Party support and won the Monmouth County portions of their primaries. Peters lost, but likely had a better showing than he would have had he been on the ballot in his own column.
They don’t like that incumbents are protected by the party.
Gordon and Gonzalez think the founding fathers would frown on the way incumbent office holders are protected from intra-party challenges and the lack of competition. Despite the fact that they like Chairman John Bennett and think his candidate selection process is an improvement over Oxley’s, they realized that a challenge to the incumbents would be fruitless at the party convention. They could not get a sufficient number of county committee members to sign petitions for challengers. They blame that on their perception that county committee members would fear political or economic retribution from the party if they signed a challenger’s petition.
Gordon and Gonzalez feel that they are not represented in government. “Who represents us?” they ask as a complaint about Obama’s reelection, about Governor Christie’s “over the top” treatment of Obama immediately after Superstorm Sandy. They complain about Christie’s chastising congressional Republicans for the delay in approving federal aid for recovery from Sandy and his adding 100,000 New Jersey residents to the Medicaid rolls as an embrace of ObamaCare. The want Christie to be fighting ObamaCare on 9th and 10th amendment grounds.
Style vs Substance
With the exception of Bellew’s ideological differences with Kyrillos over abortion and gun rights, BTPG’s and their candidates’ gripes with the incumbents seems to be more a matter of style than substance. They are angry that the incumbents have not spoken out against the post Newtown, CT massacre legislative challenges to gun rights in an angry manner. They are angry that Assembly Members Declan O’Scanlon and Amy Handlin haven’t expressed anger about the anti-gun bills that recent passed the Assembly. They don’t approve of 100% of the votes cast by O’Scanlon and Handlin on the issue. They are angry that Sherriff Shaun Golden has not spoken out about in support of the 2nd amendment. They have not, to my knowledge, expressed any complaint with Freeholders Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso.
In summary, ultimately, Assembly Members Declan O’Scanlon and Amy Handlin and Freeholders Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso are facing primary challengers because Leigh-Ann Bellew needs a full slate of candidates for her challenge to Senator Joe Kyrillos.
Peters filed to run for sheriff in 2007 and then withdrew because he did not meet the residency requirement. He ran, on his own in the 2010 primary, losing to Golden. Without the Tea Party support, he may or may not have challenged Golden again. He does want to be sheriff. Running with a team this time gives him another shot.
BTPG’s Gordon, Gonzalez and many of their members feel unrepresented because their elected officials don’t express anger over anti-gun legislation and ObamaCare. They don’t yell at legislative hearings, attend roadside rallies, or issue angry press releases. Gordon, Gonzalez and some of the members of their group say they don’t like that under normal circumstances incumbents don’t have competition to be re-nominated for their offices. One has to wonder how they would feel about that if one of their candidates ever got elected and wanted to run again.