By Art Gallagher
Several MMM readers have asked me to endorse of a U.S. Senate candidate to take on Senator Cory Booker. I can’t endorse, or vote for, any of the four candidates who are on the ballot this Tuesday.
I’m writing in Joe Kyrillos on Tuesday. If this post goes viral, Joe Kryillos could be the U.S. Senate Republican nominee on Tuesday night. That’s how bad the U.S. Senate primary campaign has been. Booker would then have a fight on his hands. Share this post.
None of the four candidates on the ballot can make Booker break a sweat this fall.
None of the candidates on the ballot have raised enough money for a county freeholder race, never mind a statewide race for U.S. Senate. Booker has spent over $12 million on his re-election bid since the first of the year. He had $2.9 million in cash on hand as of May 14.
State Senator Joe Kyrillos, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in 2012, has refunded more money to his federal donors this year that any of the current Republican candidates have raised.
Early on, I had hoped that Murray Sabrin would make a race of it against Booker. He raised enough money for a freeholder race in Salem County in the first quarter and he has more statewide name recognition than the others on the ballot by virtue of his previous third party and GOP primary races.
Sabrin’s small government/libertarian message resonates with many, conservatives, moderates and youthful voters. But his isolationist foreign policy views are dangerous. While I could live with his foreign policies views as a freshman senator, I would like to hear Murray, the son of Holocaust survivors, speculate what his own life would be like if FDR and Harry Truman espoused his isolationist foreign policy views.
Unfortunately, Sabrin has demonstrated that he has learned little from his previous losing races. His primary campaign has been unfocused and sophomoric. He has spent more effort pursuing an ethics complaint against Senate President Steve Sweeney, that failed, than he has running for U.S. Senate. Sabrin’s has not filed his pre-primary campaign finance report with the FEC. This is not Murray’s first rodeo. If the report had good news, i.e., significant monies raised, it would have been filed and my email in-box, voice mail and facebook inbox would be filled with pleas and demands that I spread the news.
The post card I received from Murray’s campaign yesterday telling me that Rich Pezzullo is “hopelessly liberal” nailed it for me. I can’t vote for Murray. Pezzullo is not liberal and amateur Loneganesque stunts are not winning any elections in New Jersey.
Rich Pezzzullo of Freehold is a good man. But he has terrible political instincts and is disorganized. Rich has refused to be transparent with his campaign finances. He has raised money, but his reports don’t appear on the FEC website, by design. He let me glance at his 1st quarter report (he had about $6,000) but gave me a convoluted explanation about why his reports were not on the FEC site. He wouldn’t tell me how much he raised up to the pre-primary filing date of May 14, because the report was not on the FEC site. Like Murray, if the news was good, Rich would not be hiding it.
If Rich wants to be involved in government and politics, he should get himself appointed to a board or commission in Freehold Township and run for Township Committee next time there is a vacancy.
Brian Goldberg somehow managed to win the most “party lines” at the county conventions. That doesn’t say much for New Jersey’s Republican County Chairmen and the NJGOP.
Goldberg has not run for any elected office before and it shows. He is not a natural. He has raised less money than it would take to win a council seat in Keyport. He’s also fighting off allegations, pushed by the Sabrin camp, that he paid a campaign staffer out of his family business.
By virtue of that fact that he has the most county party lines, Goldberg has to be considered the favorite in what is sure to be a low turnout statewide primary. Goldberg’s party line is CD-3, Ocean and Burlington counties, where there is a contentious circus between Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur to replace Congressman Jon Runyan as the GOP nominee for Congress, might win him more votes then the rest of the GOP primary votes statewide. But a Goldberg nomination will be disastrous for down ballot Republicans throughout New Jersey. There will be no reason for most Republican voters to come out to vote.
Jeff Bell has run the best campaign of the four candidates on the ballot on Tuesday. If writing-in was not an option, I would vote for Jeff. He’s raised the most money of the four, had the best ad on MMM, and the post cards I received from his campaign last week made me want to vote for him.
Jeff wisely took a pass on competing for the county party lines, seeing that they were a rigged game in most counties. He is a smart guy and a good policy wonk. But charisma matters, especially against Booker, and Jeff doesn’t have it. Worse than that, he’s pigeon holed himself as an advocate of the gold standard. Even if the gold standard was smart economic policy, the conversation will put voters to sleep, leaving them to be inspired by Booker’s aphorisms and poetry. Jeff’s post cards didn’t mention the gold standard, which is a good sign that his team is altering the message, should Jeff win on Tuesday.
Joe Kyrillos wants to be a U.S. Senator. He ran a tough campaign against Senator Bob Menendez in 2012, based on the early analysis that President Obama would not do as well in NJ in 2012 as he did in 2008. Despite his big loss to Menendez, Kyrillos got more votes, 1.7 million, in a Hurricane Sandy suppressed turnout in 2012 than Governor Christie got in his winning campaigns in 2009 and 2013. That fact doesn’t win Kyrillos anything, other than superior name recognition than any of the four candidates on the ballot for Senate on Tuesday and probably the second highest name recognition of any active Republican politician in New Jersey after Christie.
Kyrillos didn’t enter this years primary for U.S. Senate because he knows what it takes to run a statewide campaign and he wasn’t prepared to do it again. Joe had raised almost $1 million for his 2012 campaign as an “exploratory” candidate before he made his official announcement that he was running against Menendez. He knows that the $5 million he raised for the 2012 race was $5-$10 million short of what it takes to compete statewide.
Just as Joe misread the political winds in 2012, I think he, and most of the NJ GOP, are misreading them again this year. 2014 could well be a Republican “waive” year, nationally, like 2010 was.
Booker’s support is wide but shallow. His approval rating was only 47% in the March Monmouth University Poll. 52% either had no opinion or disapproved of his performance as a U.S. Senator. Since March, we have learned more of what a horrible job Booker did as mayor of Newark.
Booker said in a fund raising email a couple of weeks ago, “No matter how ugly the attacks get, I am committed to building a campaign based on love.”
Booker’s message of love is important. The world needs more of that message. But not from a U.S. Senator. Booker is a more accomplished celebrity of love than he is a government official. He should become a preacher, TV-personality and/or poet. His talents are better suited for those professions than for the U.S. Senate.
It might be too late for Kyrillos, or anyone else to mount a serious challenge against Booker. But to nominate one of the Republican candidates on Tuesday’s ballot is akin to letting Booker run unopposed. Kyrillos can raise more money than any of the four on the ballot. He already has superior name recognition. Best case, Kyrillos can give Republicans statewide a reason to come out and vote on November 4 and give Republicans throughout the state up ballot support.
If this post goes viral in this social media age, Kyrillos could win the nomination. That’s how bad the four campaigns of those on the ballots have been. It probably won’t happen, but who knows? If it does happen, Joe and Susan will be pissed at me for a few minutes and then they will get to work.
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