It started with GOP Senator Jennifer Beck, looking for an issue to run on next year, and soon got crazily out of hand. Beck, a member of the GOP Senate leadership no less, got NJ 101.5's Bill "pulled-pork" Spadea to start the movement to publicly call for running primary campaigns against Republican legislators in 2017 and it took off from there.
Next it was taken up in the pages of the SaveJersey blog, with a call for open Republican-on-Republican warfare:
And who are these offending Republicans? Here’s the Rogue’s Gallery – read it and make them weep:
Jon Bramnick, LD 21 (Union, Somerset and Morris); Chris Brown, LD 2 (Atlantic): Rob Clifton, LD 12 (Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington and Middlesex); BettyLou DeCroce, LD 26 (Morris, Essex and Passaic); Joe Howarth, LD 8 (Burlington, Atlantic and Camden); Sean Kean, LD 30 (Monmouth and Ocean); Nancy Munoz, LD 21 (Union, Morris and Somerset); David Rible, LD 30 (Monmouth); Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, LD 8 (Burlington, Atlantic and Camden) and Scott Rumana, LD 40 (Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris).
Note that many of this exceedingly motley crew are in the GOP leadership in the Assembly, including Assemblyman Bramnick, the putative leader of the caucus.
...For their support of the gas tax-hike abomination, the Gang of 10 need to be primaried, hounded, called out, denounced, condemned and run to ground as traitors to the state’s already oppressed taxpayers.
The writer also explicitly fingers the new GOP "Solutions NJ" super PAC as being "GOP up-and-comers who loathe the idea of a gas-tax hike."
Why did the leadership of the Senate Republican Caucus encourage one of their members to negotiate a tax cut/TTF-funding deal, while a member of GOP leadership itself was allowed to publicly make war on that deal? That miscalculation has opened up the possibility of primaries against legislative Republicans across the state.
The so-called "left" of the conservative movement in New Jersey -- represented by the anti-government, libertarian-leaning Liberty & Prosperity group of Atlantic and Cape May counties -- got into the act, calling for an Argentina-style "repudiation" of the $16 billion debt used to fund the TTF. Yes, they want to default on the debt, walk away from it, and they have what could be a sound legal argument for doing so. They also want to "identify, recruit, train, and support qualified candidates to run against (Assemblyman Chris Brown and others) in the Primary Elections next June."
Assemblyman Brown is one of three Republicans in the state who share a legislative district with two Democrats. He is hyper-vulnerable in 2017. If he is defeated for re-election, it will be the fault of Senator Jennifer Beck and the GOP Senate leadership for riling up and galvanizing the opposition against him.
Coming from the social-conservative "right" on this issue is the New Jersey Family Policy Council. In an email blast in which they remind readers that they "don't usually get too involved in fiscal issues," the NJFPC goes after Governor Chris Christie, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, and other Republicans for voting for A-12, which increased the gas tax while reducing the sales tax and eliminating the tax on retirement income for most retirees.
Curiously, the NJFPC uses the talking points of far-left former Democrat State Senator Gordon MacInnes' Policy Perspectives group, and lifts its points directly from another publication. MacInnes is an old-Great Society social warrior and former White House staffer under LBJ (for those of you too young to remember, that stands for President Lyndon Baines Johnson).
This is being follow-up with a political campaign seminar tomorrow at the Church of Grace & Peace in Toms River. The seminar is run by a campaign professional from out West named George Khalaf, dubbed by NJFPC's Len Deo as "the Lebanese Lion from Arizona." We don't know a soul who calls him that, by-the-way, apart from maybe his pal Paul Weber.
George Khalaf is the former political director of the Arizona Republican Party, who started his own polling and general consulting firm two years ago and is now out looking for new clients. The seminar tomorrow promises to "change the culture by winning campaigns... at all levels of elected offices, from School Board to Town Council, to County Office and all the way up to the State and Federal elections!"
Well the Lion has come to the right place to do some hunting. New Jersey is one of the last breeding grounds of that nearly extinct creature -- the culturally far-left Republican elected official. These people can't even tell the difference between boys and girls. They want adult male sex offenders showering with the high school girls' soccer team. In Arizona, their heads adorn every political consultant's office in every county.
But it gets better. The NJGOP lost legislative seats even with a popular Governor at the helm. The GOP couldn't pick up a single Senate seat even when the Governor was winning by 20 percentage points. In contrast, in Pennsylvania the GOP won 12 new legislative seats while their incumbent Governor was LOSING by 10 points! Going into 2017, the NJGOP isn't going to have enough money to protect its vulnerable incumbents in the GENERAL ELECTION. Forget about having the spare money for one or two or more or a bunch of primaries.
And as a pollster of some repute, George Khalaf will soon discover that most Republicans in the Garden State are over 60 years old and think culturally more like average Republicans do in Arizona than GOP "leaders" do in New Jersey. New Jersey Republicans are utterly turned-off by these creatures who claim to represent them, their culture, or their country. So let the Lion loose and... good hunting! Or should we say, good dining?
By-the-way, great work Senator Beck... great work!