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Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Category

I was recently reminded of what is easily my favorite political story of the last five years. It involves Democrat Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts candidate for Senate who was running in a special election earlier this year.

Toward the end of what was universally panned as one of the most neglected and worst run campaigns in MA Democratic political history, Coakley made some comment ( and I’m paraphrasing here ) along the lines of, “what do you expect me to do??!! stand outside Fenway Park to shake hands??!! In the cold?!! I don’t think so.”

Really. Well, we all know what happened next. Scott Brown the Playgirl centerfold went on to defeat her with his simple retort about the seat they were both seeking not belonging to Kennedy ( Teddy, who held it for about 176 years ) but to the people of the Commonwealth.

I’m reminded of this for a couple of reasons. First off, Repubs have begun a  whisper campaign that both Holt and Pallone are in trouble in their normally safe districts. That may be true. But the real danger for the Democrats is in the 3rd which we recently learned was not underestimated at all by the South J Dems. According to the implication in Jane Roh’s excellent stories…the Dems took Runyan so seriously, the created a fake Tea Party candidate to siphon off 5% of the vote…which might be just enough for Adler to win.

The 3rd is one of the three races State House people have been watching closely. the others are the 14th Legislative District and The Bergen Exec race.

Governor Christie has not been very visible in any of these. That’s not to say he is not doing what he can behind the scenes…but it is slightly odd. The 3rd is a high profile Congressional race in a year pundits are predicting a “Republican Tsunami.” The Bergen race is key to a large county that I am sure the Governor would like to win in 2013. And the 14th is the first true test of the Governor’s positions and policies in a swing district.

Here is what I have been told. Up in Bergen, Christie is still annoyed he didn’t win the county and has not been thrilled with some of the positions Kathe Donovan has taken. Meantime, At least one Dem says they are happy over in camp McNerney that Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club has decided to be so vocal for Donovan because that might actually help The Democratic ticket in a county fed up with environmental regs.

As for the 14th…it’s a bit more of a mystery. Insiders tell me that Goodwin is up more than 10, according to internals. That might explain why Greenstein went so negative about women’s health ( the ad actually features a pink ribbon on a gravestone ). Christie may not want to rehash that debate on the campaign trail even if it’s for a fellow Repub and not himself.

Or perhaps the Governor will jump into all three with both feet in the next coupla weeks. After all, he has been jetting all around the country for fellow Republican Gov candidates in other states.

So, I guess the message is this…don’t take anything for granted. These three races are significant for the Republican party and Christie doesn’t want to be seen as the guy who goes on MSNBC but refuses to shake hands outside the local stadium.

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When we first learned that Governor Christie will be stumping for GOP candidates nationwide, we realized NJN needs to cover it in some fashion. Flying to California and renting equipment was a bit – um, cost prohibitive…so when we saw that Christie would be in Cincinnati this week for Ohio Gubernatorial candidate John Kasich we decided to make the trip.

First, lemme talk a little bit about our journey ( which was really not that interesting so it won’t take up too much space here ). NJN has a satellite truck which can get a live shot onto the evening news from pretty much anywhere in the nation. So, we decided to drive that piece of equipment here to Cincinnati from where I write this blog. Actually, we are staying just across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky. we drove out through Pennsy on the Turnpike taking us through the Blue Mountain and other tunnels. We passed briefly through West Virgina and ended up in Ohio for the rest of the way. It is a roughly 600 mile trip. So, after the return, Cameraman Bob Wick and I will have traveled the equivalent distance of roughly 1/3 of the continental United States by truck. Ah, the glamorous life of an NJN Reporter.

But here is why this is so newsworthy. For starters Christie is a rising star in the GOP. Not a tea party guy, but an establishment candidate who can win in a blue state. This story has been slightly under-reported in light of the big, out of nowhere victories of Tea Partiers such as Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. Christie is stopping by ten different states for GOP Gubernatorial candidates. He has already hit CA and NM. This week he is in Ohio ( yes, I know I said that already ), and next week he hits four states in two and half days – WI, IA, IL, MI. Next month he will do two events for Tom Corbett in PA, and he will also drop in for Tom Foley in CT and Bob Ehrlich in Maryland ( who wants his old job back ). In most of these cases Christie does a fundraiser and public event. BTW – I am told the fundraiser for Meg Whitman in CA raised $2 million – the largest single fundraiser of her entire campaign so far.

According to the Republican Governor’s Association, the GOP comeback in this country begins with statewide races. It started last year with Christie and Bob McDonnell in VA. There are currently Republican Governors in 24 states but there are 37 Gubernatorial races this year ( 37! ). Not only will that be a barometer for how folks are feeling locally, this is a pretty significant year to win locally since redistricting will take place in 2011 following the 2010 Census results. That of course will control the alignment of power for the next decade.

So, there are a coupla themes here. First, Christie is almost the antithesis of the tea party insurgence. He is a Republican who has broad appeal, and he is limiting his appearances to candidates in states that have recently gone for Democrats but could very well wind up going for Repubs this time around. In addition, the majority of the candidates Christie is parachuting in for are currently ahead in the polls. The exceptions are Meg Whitman in Cali, and the aformentioned Foley of CT and Ehrlich of MD ( Foley appears to be behind by a lot , the others less so ).

A person close to Christie tells me he has gotten requests from literally all over the country but opted to focus instead on these ten ( although more may be added ). He will also do a handful of stops for GOP Congressional candidates in Pennsylvania just across the Delaware River.

So, while our Governor is primarily focused on the local races of Jon Runyan in the 3rd, Kathe Donovan in Bergen County and Tom Goodwin in the special election for Baroni’s old seat, he is carefully choosing some other races where the appeal of a “Jersey Guy” just may make a difference.

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So, I have now covered a coupla of these primary races and I think I can sum them up nicely ( at least on the Republican side ) with these words: “I’m from the tea party!” “No, I am!” “No, I am the true Tea party guy!”

I was sorta reminded of that old MTV Half-Hour Comedy Hour bit about Herve Villechaiz getting really mad about not being cast as Bruce Wayne in the 1989 Batman movie which caused him to jump up and down screaming “No, I’m de batman!!!” “I’m de batman!!” ( Trust me…that is a very funny joke if you have ever seen it…and yes, I mean the Herve Villechaiz from fantasy Island )

When did it become so unglamorous to simply call yourself a Republican? I mean, didn’t being one used to stand for fiscal restraint, untangling government regs and putting the brakes on the liberal agenda? What’s wrong with that??? Whether you agree with those things or not, they are certainly respectable enough principles to guide how you define your politics.

It just goes to show how people can be seduced by the latest fad or trend. For months we have been hearing about how badly spanked the Democrats will get this November. Well, I’m not so sure. There is a lot of anger and anti-incumbency out there…sure… but it cuts both ways. Democrats meantime are hoping to capitalize on that same hostility by motivating those voters to them.

I spoke to Samantha Gordon this week who is helping roll out the Organizing For America 2010 campaign plan. The idea is re-energize those voters who came out strong for Obama in 2008. That year, 600,000 new voters went to the polls in New Jersey. Where are they now, and will they come out again? Hard to say on both fronts. I would argue that some of those new voters who jumped on the Obama bandwagon just as quickly jumped on the Christie one in 2009. In other words, that new energy is not necessarily Democratic. They could just as easily pull the lever for a Republican they like.

Anyway, Organizing For America is the Obama grassroots org which is funded through the DNC. They are not just registering people this year, but asking them to sign pledge cards. Sounds gimmicky like “The Contract With America,” doesn’t it?? They had previously been organizing people to support the President’s agenda, but they are now converting that energy ( including phone banking ) to encourage voter turnout – as long as those voters vote D.

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