There’s little hope for Republicans anyway if they don’t win a legislative chamber this year.
Vin Gopal’s ambitions are bigger than winning Democratic control of Monmouth’s county and municipal governments. He wants to make sure New Jersey never again has another Republican governor or U.S. senator.
“Once we turn Monmouth County blue, a Republican will never win statewide,” Gopal said last night at the annual Monmouth County Democrats Annual Chairman’s Ball, according to a report on PolitickerNJ.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney was on hand to boost Gopal’s plan of taking over Monmouth County from the bottom up.
“Build the party, bring as many people as you can to strengthen this organization, … and then once you create it you can win, there’s no reason why not,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, who was invited to speak at the Monmouth County Democrats Annual Chairman Ball.
“It’s the effort that you put in and you’ve got to build from the foundation up,” he said, explaining first it’s the councils and then the freeholder boards.
“No Republican can win statewide if we can win this county,” Sweeney said. “It’s just a matter of attitude, energy and focus, and that’s what I’m seeing out of this county.”
Unless New Jersey Republicans win at least one chamber of the legislature on November 5, it is unlikely that a post Chris Christie Republican will be elected statewide for the foreseeable future anyway or that Republicans will ever control the legislature again.
If Republicans can’t pick up seats this year when they have a hugely popular governor cruising to a 30 point win on the top of the ticket, when will they? Not until there is another Jim Florio or Jon Corzine in Drumthwacket, or a Democratic version of Richard Nixon or George W. Bush in the White House, if even then.
Christie is going to be reelected by huge margins.
Trenton Republicans say privately that the Governor wants a Republican legislature. One legislator said that Christie has told the Republican caucus to be ready to work five days per week in their part-time jobs if they gain control of Trenton. Another legislator said “we’re working are asses off and doing everything we can to take control. The Governor is very supportive. The (legislative) map is designed to make sure the majority of voters do not have the representation they want.”
But outwardly, Christie is running as a bi-partisan, not as a Republican. Democrats and Republicans alike running for the legislature are featuring Christie in their literature and ads. Christie himself is making videos featuring his bromance with Sweeney, the guy who called him “a prick,” who has held up 4 of 6 of Christie’s nominations to the State Supreme Court, and who prevented the majority of Christie’s “property tax tool kit” from being voted on in the legislature.
Christie’s bi-partisan strategy makes perfect sense politically. Given the recent events in Washington, Christie’s year-long bi-partisan rhetoric is genius. Christie’s rant against House
Speaker John Boehner in January over Sandy relief funding was earth shattering big news at the time. In hindsight, it doesn’t look like such a big deal given how Washington Republicans grabbed defeat out of the jaws of a potential huge victory over the last month with the government shutdown and debt crisis, while giving the Obama Administration cover for the disastrous roll out of ObamaCare.
Christie’s bi-partisan strategy makes perfect sense for governing New Jersey after he is reelected. Should, as the polls and pundits predict, Democrats keep control of the legislature, Christie’s only hope of getting any more reforms passed or Judges approved, will be a function of his ability to work with Sweeney. Sweeney has already proved that he takes politics personally and that he is vindictive. If Christie overtly joined Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, JR in targeting Sweeney for defeat, Trenton gridlock would match Washington gridlock for the remainder of Christie’s tenure.
Republicans still have a slim shot of winning control of at least one chamber in Trenton on November 5. But it would be a better shot if Christie asked for it.
In their backhanded endorsement of Christie’s reelection, The Star Ledger was right. Christie’s accomplishments in his first term have been modest. New Jersey’s economy, while improving, is anemic and lagging compared to the growth of neighboring states. The out-of-control increases in property taxes have subsided due to Christie’s 2% cap, but those taxes are still draconian and New Jersey voters’ biggest concern.
But more than anyone, Sweeney thwarted the reforms that Christie proposed that would have revived our economy and brought property tax growth under control.
The Christie-Sweeney pension and benefit reforms were a big deal … for the future pensioners who resent it. But when the bill comes due in the form of $5 billion + annual state contributions to the pension fund, after Christie has moved on to Washington or the private sector, those reforms will be revealed as a terrible deal for taxpayers. When inflation inevitably kicks in after years of Obama’s deficit spending and Bernanke’s quantitative easing, the 2% property tax will be crippling to New Jersey’s schools, municipalities and counties.
Christie is a master of winning with the hand he’s been dealt. His modest first term accomplishments were winning with the bad hand of a Democratic legislature. The legislative map dealt by the late Dr. Alan Rosenthal in 2011 was a terrible hand, but Christie pivoted from being a combative reformer to a bi-partisan leader and has been winning the best he can.
Washington Republicans recent actions are a bad hand to the Republican brand which is likely to be a drag on GOP legislative candidates in competitive districts. If ObamaCare proves to be a disaster and is widely unpopular next year, Washington Republicans might look like geniuses in hindsight given how hard they fought against it, but for now, the GOP brand continues to suffer, which is not good for the NJ GOP.
Many New Jersey Republicans have been waiting for Christie to pivot again, in the closing days of the campaign, and ask the electorate for a Republican legislature with the promise of real reforms to property taxes, the Courts and taxes, if he has real partners in Trenton. As time is running out on the campaign, it is looking unlikely such a bold move will happen. One can still hope that the unpredictable happens and Sweeney will be sent back to the union halls.
As far as Monmouth County goes, Gopal is playing the long game. He doesn’t expect to pick up any seats on the County or Legislative levels this year. The Monmouth GOP could set him back by winning a seat or two in Red Bank this year and defending seats in Union Beach, Keyport, Hazlet, Farmingdale and Highlands.