Morris Freeholders: Checkmate Strategies vs. Checkmate Action

Will the sucking never end?  Does the media do any research anymore… or are they just in the business of being punked?

Yesterday, this popped up on a Left-leaning, Trenton-insider blog: 

One of the three candidates running on a slate against three incumbent Morris freeholders in the June Republican primary has spent $42,000 on consulting services with Checkmate Strategies LLC, which lists an address at 30 N.Gould Street in Sheridan, Wyo. That, according to an April 15 campaign financial statement filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission by candidate Donald Dinsmore.

Dinsmore is running on a slate with William Felegi and Cathy Winterfield against incumbents Doug Cabana, Kathy DeFillippo and Tom Mastrangelo. The ELEC filing by Dinsmore as an individual candidate lists the contribution as being made Feb. 4 of this year.

There is a New Jersey political consulting firm named Checkmate Strategies. Based in Jackson, it was co-founded by Chris Russell and has won numerous awards for its work. 

But Russell said in an email that his firm is not involved with the Dinsmore campaign…

So, there’s another Checkmate Strategies in Wyoming?

Maybe. 

However, the address in question, 30 N. Gould Street, is actually a mail forwarding center. According to its website, Wyoming Mail Forwarding promises to open and scan all mail and deliver it to the recipient the day it arrives. All well and good, but who exactly is Checkmate Strategies. And why does it have the same name as a well-known New Jersey consultant?

Dinsmore said the expenditure was for “consulting services,” which is also how it’s described on the ELEC report. But he declined to elaborate further.

There are some obvious questions here. Besides who the consultant actually is, why is a candidate in Morris County using a mail forwarding outfit in Wyoming?

Well, if the blog in question had done just a little creative research – in this case, searching the term “checkmate” on the Wyoming Secretary of State’s business name search engine – they would have found that, in fact, there is a registered corporation (in good-standing) by that name, doing business from that address. 

Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 7.23.46 AM.png

As for the question:  And why does it have the same name as a well-known New Jersey consultant?  Well the writer is betraying a rather naïve Jersey-centric world view here.  There are no border checkpoints preventing a firm in Wyoming from working in New Jersey.  Checkmate Strategies itself has worked on races as far away as Alaska.  And the firm handling Mr. Dinsmore’s opponents has clients even further afield, often necessitating filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. 

Added to this is the fact that Checkmate Strategies doesn’t own their own name in most of the country.  Even in neighboring Pennsylvania…

Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 7.52.28 AM.png

Like Checkmate Action Group LLC, Checkmate Strategies LLC is a somewhat recent entity, formed in New Jersey on September 22, 2017.  Its partners are Chris Russell of Jackson, New Jersey, and Michael Lawler of Pearl River, New York.  So it got the jump on the Wyoming firm by just over a year. 

Is all this an issue?  Well, when you figure out who actually owns Checkmate Action Group LLC, perhaps it will be.  Enjoy your research…

The hidden power we have to take back our schools.

By Gay Brandeal

Just supposing that you are confused or discouraged about a recent decision made in a NJ school system which affects your child’s safety or constitutional rights. Perhaps, it is concerning gender bathroom rules, the imposition of religious practices during a school day or did you read about the ability of many high school students to unblock sites which the school has deemed unacceptable on those daily used Chromebooks? What should one do? Well, there is the well-placed phone call to the superintendent, principal or teacher regarding the concern and an email to the board of education president as well asking some pointed questions regarding the point of disagreement. But can a parent do more? And speaking of the board of education do you know much about the state system which is in place for electing board members in NJ? The law states that every third Tuesday in April or during the fall general election (which is held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November) there should be an annual school board election. The purpose of this election is to submit a proposal to voters for the approval of additional funds, for electing board members or for other educational purposes or immediate needs for the coming year. All school elections are held by ballot and should be conducted in the same manner as a general election. Certain specific laws govern the withdrawal of a candidate’s name prior to an election. Names are drawn by the secretary to the board of education following the last day for filing and are positioned on the ballot in the order drawn. No political party designation should accompany the name of that individual running for the board.

But Alas! Here is the new law (S868) which may influence your decision to run for your local school board. No more than a one to three word designation summarizing a theme on which bracketed candidates could choose to run is now allowed as of 2019. For example, if Mrs. Jones, Mr. Ortega and Ms. Patel are all concerned about the safety of their school aged children they may be bracketed as “Safety First” candidates during the local school board election. Having circulated a petition summarizing their focus the candidates provide voters with information on certain issues. They would vote as a block in the coming decisions therefore providing more strength for that stand. The names of those “bracketed” together after a petition had been circulated gathering the names would appear together although the order on the ballot would be chosen by the bracketed group not the board secretary.

Serving on the school board requires a strong desire to provide the best education for local children. The study of issues, dedicated time, teamwork, knowledge of the law and people skills should be pre requisites for certain. Hopefully, people of integrity with motives to protect children and improve the educational milieu would be interested in serving. Consider for a moment the decisions which consistently lie in the hands of NJ board of education members in various cities and towns in the Garden State. In recent years LGBTQ rights as well as Chromebook safety issues have arisen in our state as well as questions about mandated religious practices being allowed within the school day. It is the local Board of Education members who wield the power to decide what will or will not be allowed in that particular school system. Should there be less revisionist history allowed or what bathroom and locker room rules will be altered to meet the perceived rights of a small group of students? What actually  happens to those Chromebooks at the end of the school year? How well are they scrubbed and can someone still hack into your child’s personal information from the previous year? What policies on bullying and discipline are put into practice and what power does the principal or superintendent really have to enforce them?? The board of education is in charge. The board closely monitors the use and distribution of monies and adopts curriculum changes which can completely alter what and how children are taught. Many parents and guardians are discouraged, confused or absolutely dissatisfied with their local public school system. Many are completely thrilled and are pleased at how their child’s academic and social needs are being met. Whatever your opinion is about the quality of your local schools be aware that the real power resides in the decisions made by your board of education members. It is this powerful board which initiates or stops new programs and policies which inevitably affect your child. Consider your desire to provide your child with the best public education possible in NJ and ponder whether you or a family member or friend would be an asset to the local board of education. Then consider what common ideas could be the foundation of those who are bracketed together with shared values. Is your child’s academic future worth the investment of your time and talent by running for your local board of education? Only you can answer.  

Visit www.njsba.org/candidacy for more information.

Gay Brandeal is a retired New Jersey educator from Morris County.

Is AFP even a conservative organization anymore?

Can we get serious?

In America, there is a consensus, a generally accepted agreement as to what the word “conservative” means.  Take a poll.  Ask the average voter what the word means.  The four pillars of modern American conservatism are pretty easy to remember:

(1) The Right to Life.  Conservatives, real conservatives, Reagan conservatives, we oppose abortion.  Full stop.  

(2) The Second Amendment.  Hey, how many court rulings do you need before you finally get that the government has no duty to protect you?  In a Republic, that is on you.  Conservatives oppose the anarchy of crime.  We support gun rights, local police, and laws that are tough on crime – especially violent crime.

(3) Less Government/ Lower Taxes.  Conservatives know that smaller government and less government regulation leads to less spending and debt, which enables governments to cut taxes.  Conservatives also know that crony capitalism is a form of political corruption and as such is itself a tax on the goods and services used by ordinary citizens.

(4) Illegal Immigration.  Conservatives like America and American culture.  We welcome anyone from anywhere who wants to come here and join us and become an American.  We don’t want to be colonized by foreign cultures with authoritarian or anti-democratic traditions.  We don’t want to be told that we need to change to accommodate those who gate-crash the laws of our country. 

In order to call yourself a conservative in America, you pretty much need to be all four of the above.  Maybe you can get away with being a little mushy on one and still be considered a “soft” conservative.  But if you are bad on more than one, you need to think about why you are a Republican.  (Hey, haven’t these people ever read the PLATFORM of the party they claim membership of?)

That’s not to say that anybody is a “bad” person.  It’s just saying that you’re not a conservative.  See, the word “conservative” actually does mean something.  It’s not just a term of praise used in the proper setting to describe people we happen to like… or want to suck-up to. 

“Conservative” doesn’t mean “libertarian”.  It is per se a traditionalist point-of-view.  Conservatives want to C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E the traditions and values of our American Republic.  Unlike our libertarian brethren, we don’t want to replace Mom and Apple Pie with the Orgasmatron and the Orb.

That’s not to say that conservatives and libertarians (or anyone else for that matter) can’t agree on certain issues and work together.  But having a conservative point of view on this or that issue doesn’t make one a conservative.  Heck, Bill Clinton called himself a “fiscal conservative” – that didn’t make him a conservative.  It made him a liberal who saw the political advantages of conservative policy on issues like welfare reform.  He was still a liberal. 

And so we come to the especially Jersey-style, end of year crap that recently went spewing itself all over the Internet.  For years now, New  Jersey has been working very hard at being the place words go to lose their meaning.  Reading “The Right 40 Women to Watch in 2019” (written by AFP’s head honcho in New Jersey) it’s now clear that this trend has reached new depths of meaninglessness – with many of those mentioned being members of the “Right” only in the way that Hillary Clinton can be considered being to the “Right” of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

AFP – Americans for Prosperity – is the group formed by the super-rich Koch brothers as the political and lobbying arm of their business empire.  Anyone who knows anything about the Koch brothers knows that they come out of the Libertarian Party – in fact, one of the brothers actually ran against Republican Ronald Reagan on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.  Yes… THAT Ronald Reagan. 

And what a ticket that was… it supported everything from the decriminalization of narcotics and prostitution to America’s standing down as a world power.  If that crew had been elected, we’d still have the Soviet Union (and maybe they would have won).  But happily, Reagan won and the Koch operation was forced to rebrand itself as fake “conservative” – a move that started the process of unwinding the meaning of the word. 

Over the last decade or more, the Koch operation has done much to corrupt the conservative movement in America – in an effort to remake it in their own crony capitalist image.  Now they’ve come full circle and are back to advocating a soft-on-crime approach while pushing to flood the open market with recreational marijuana… this, in the midst of an opioid epidemic that is killing upwards of 50,000 people each year.

In fact, AFP in New Jersey has become so crony capitalist, so establishment, so anti-conservative values, that it has taken to shilling for far-Left politicians like U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  Just before Christmas, AFP paid for a mailing that lauded Senator Gropicus (a great moniker, courtesy of SaveJersey’s Matt Rooney) for a soft-on-crime package of feel good “reforms” that miss the problem entirely, but make for good media ads for his 2020 run against President Donald Trump.  Why the heck would AFP do something like that?  The Democrats don’t need the resources – they already have George Soros – now they have the Koch operation’s millions too? 

Among those women on “the Right” we were asked to “celebrate” were a half dozen who made the list because of their service on the just completed campaign of Bob Hugin for United States Senate.  Now maybe the writer didn’t get the memo, but Bob Hugin didn’t run from “the Right” and his campaign did all it could to distance itself from said “Right” – starting with millions in advertising assuring the electorate that he was a “different kind of Republican” who explicitly rejected at least one of the four pillars of modern American conservatism.  So WTF?

And since when did the legalization and sale of marijuana become a conservative issue?  Hasn’t anyone read about the vaping problem in our schools?  And this is with nicotine… imagine what it will be with marijuana?  And edibles?  How will policing the use of chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and cookies work?  Candy for children… So how the heck did the “co-founder and executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association” make a list of “women on the Right”???

Get out of your offices and talk to average people sometime!  Ask them if they think legalizing and selling an entry level drug in the midst of an opioid epidemic is a conservative political position?  Average voters will think you have lost your mind.  But there she is, on the list for being “at the helm” in her quest to “unleash a new industry within the State.”  What’s next?  Narcotics?  The legalization of human trafficking?  Prostitution?  Body parts?   Wait… it will come.

Rosemary Becchi made the list too.  She’s the president of a “new grassroots advocacy organization” formed in 2018 “to fight Jersey’s high taxes and propose policy solutions to the state’s complex financial problems.”  Except that she hasn’t.  Ms. Becchi is a DC lobbyist who has donated to the Democrats.  Hey, we get that lobbyists do that kind of thing, but let’s not call it conservative

Nobody has seen Ms. Becchi testifying in Trenton, or providing information to legislators, or even returning telephone calls from those interested in finding out more about her “organization”.  Cynics would say that it is nothing more than a front – a cover for her personal ambition to run for Congress.  This is something she openly explored against incumbent Congressman Leonard Lance (R-07) a year ago, with her “grassroots” organization forming a kind of parentheses between that and her expected formal announcement for 2020.

But as far as labeling her a “conservative” – we don’t really know where she stands on big government and taxes, leaving aside her unknown positions on abortion, the Second Amendment, and illegal immigration.  So who is trying to fool who here?

Finally, AFP’s list is memorable because of the genuine conservatives – four pillar conservatives – that it leaves out.  Champions like Marie Tasy and Christine Flaherty and Rev. Mandy Leverett… they are fighting to maintain the value of human life, to recognize the threshold of fetal pain, to end the trafficking of human beings and the sexual exploitation of women and children.  Of course, in today’s cash register world of “new industries” like pot and such, none of that matters – except that it does matter to conservatives, and there are a great many of us.

Also dissed were Freeholder Deborah Smith of Morris County – a great advocate for the Second Amendment – and incoming Sussex County Freeholder Dawn Fantasia who took down an incumbent Freeholder by winning 63% of the vote!  Nobody who made AFP’s list ever beat an incumbent.  Why are conservative winners ignored and pot pushers lauded as “conservatives”?   And how about an operative like Kelly Hart, the executive director of the Sussex County Republican Committee.  A four pillar conservative who actually won for Bob Hugin by more than was expected – outperforming everywhere but receiving scant recognition for it.  Obviously, there is a “cool girls” table, just as in high school, and some are not part of it… no matter how much they actually WIN elections. 

So in future, be a bit more judicious in who you label “conservative.”  Be honest with voters.  Stop telling them that you are something you’re not. 

Yes, we expect to hear arguments from pro-abortion, mushy on illegal immigration, soft-on-the-Second Amendment types who claim that they “feel” they are conservative.  But isn’t that just the times we live in?  We’ve all heard of gender-fluidity… well, these people are ideologically fluid.  And just as our chromosomes determine whether we are male or female, how we stand on the four pillars make us conservative – or something else.

Hey, don’t worry.  Not being conservative doesn’t make you a “bad” person.  And it doesn’t mean that you don’t hold conservative points of view on this issue or that.  You can still work with conservatives.  It just means that you recognize that you don’t come from the same ideological place that conservatives do.  And in your heart, you already know that, so let’s cut the bull and get honest with the voters.  Restoring their faith in the labels politicians apply to themselves will perhaps restore some measure of trust… for when the very words people use to describe themselves have no integrity, what confidence can voters have in anything?

The false narrative of Mikie Sherrill and Lisa Bhimani

In November 2017, three members of the so-called “Resistance” held a press conference to condemn the tax cut plan of President Donald Trump.  They were Mikie Sherrill, a resident of Montclair and then a candidate for Congress in District 11; Lisa Bhimani, a medical doctor and today a candidate for the Assembly in District 25; and Kellie Doucette, who has just been given a congressional staff job by Congresswoman-Elect Sherrill.

At their press conference, the three “resisters” spoke on behalf of the state’s “middle class” and claimed that Trump and the Republicans were only out to help “big corporations and the ultra-wealthy”.  They acted as though they were representative of the families who get by on the median-income of Northwest New Jersey. We now know, in the cases of Mikie Sherrill and Lisa Bhimani, it was all an act. Both Sherrill and Bhimani are rich.  They are establishment members of the One Percent.

But what about Kellie Doucette?  She spoke as if she were a working mom, pinching every penny.

Doucette has just been appointed to be Mikie Sherrill’s “face” in Sussex and Morris Counties.  So who is she?

Well, it turns out that Kellie Doucette had a very bottom-line reason for opposing the Trump tax cuts.  Doucette is a transplant to New Jersey from Bermuda, where her husband, John P. Doucette, is the President and CEO of the Reinsurance Division of Everest Re Group Ltd., a publicly traded reinsurance company headquartered in Bermuda.  The corporation describes itself this way:

“Everest Re Group, Ltd. is a Bermuda holding company that operates through the following subsidiaries: Everest Reinsurance Company provides reinsurance to property and casualty insurers in both the U.S. and international markets. Everest Reinsurance (Bermuda), Ltd., including through its branch in the United Kingdom, provides reinsurance and insurance to worldwide property and casualty markets and reinsurance to life insurers… Additional information on Everest Re Group companies can be found at the Group’s web site at www.everestregroup.com.”

It turns out that the Trump tax cuts helped American companies at the expense of off-shore companies, like those based in Bermuda.  This is from a website maintained by Bermuda (www.bermuda-online.org):

2017. December 21.  US tax reforms approved this week by the US Congress will be “credit negative” for the Bermuda re/insurance market, Fitch Ratings says. The US credit rating agency added that it expected the tax reforms, which will take effect from January 1, to benefit US reinsurers at the expense of Bermudian and other international reinsurers serving the US. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will cut the US corporate tax rate to 21 per cent from 35 per cent, reducing Bermuda’s tax advantages over US rivals, and a new tax on premiums ceded by US insurers to foreign affiliated reinsurers will be levied.

2017. December 18. Bermuda-based reinsurers are weighing restructuring options in response to US tax reform legislation that could be signed by President Donald Trump as early as this week and come into effect by the start of next year. Tax expert Will McCallum said that the island’s major industry will see its cost of doing business going up when the reform takes effect and some companies will likely have to relocate hundreds of millions of dollars of capital to the US.

According to public SEC filings, John Doucette was paid $2,557,414 in 2017.  That’s $49,181.03 a week – that’s $10,000 more than a Deputy Sheriff makes a YEAR in Sussex County!  

Hey… is this “Resistance” movement beginning to feel more like a “counter-revolution” to you too?  A long-suffering working class, under-represented in Congress and the Legislature, screwed-over by BOTH political parties votes for Obama in 2008 (and is promptly screwed again) then in its pain and desperation turns to Trump in 2016… and now the “Resistance” has come, to put us all back in our place!

In his book, White-Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policy Making, Duke University's Nick Carnes points out that while upwards of 65 percent of citizens are "working class" and 54 percent are employed in a blue-collar occupation, just 2 percent of the members of Congress and 3 percent of state legislators held blue-collar jobs at the time of their election.  How about some diversity?

Donald Trump's campaign saw through the false political divide of Democrat and Republican to the vast economic and social divide that is the truer measure of America today.  Authors as diverse as George Packer of the New Yorker (The  Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America) to Charles Murray (Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010) to Chris Hedges (Days of Destruction Days of Revolt) to David Brooks (BoBos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There) have written about this, with Brooks actually employing Donald Trump as an example of what the "new upper class" finds unfashionable.  

And to counter this revolution, we have a One-Percenter “Resistance” made up of the likes of Mikie Sherrill, Lisa Bhimani, and Kellie Doucette.  

Congresswoman-Elect Mikie Sherrill wants Kellie Doucette to come into Sussex County and tell us how we should live.  The Congresswoman has sent Doucette to “feel our pain.” But there’s a problem with this… and it’s Kellie Doucette.

Just how insulated from the reality of the working-class is Doucette?  Well, when she moved from Bermuda to New Jersey, she settled in Chatham, a town with pretty good schools… but apparently, not good enough, because she sends her kids to boarding school in Delaware.  And not just any old boarding school… no way.

When Hollywood is looking for a boarding school that just oozes establishment wealth and privilege, they turn to Saint Andrew’s School, situated on 2200 acres in Middletown, Delaware.  You will remember seeing this well-appointed institution and its lush grounds from the Robin Williams film, Dead Poets Society, or from The West Wing, when they wanted to show what a really posh prep school looked like.  Yep, this is one posh school that Kellie Doucette sends her kids to… fall tuition for 2018-19 will set you back a cool $60,470 (per student).  

Yep, tell that to the working families of Ogdensburg – with a per capita income of just $29,447 – next time you are in Sussex County.  Hey, forget about feeling our pain, folks like you are our pain.

But Kellie Doucette has a solution for people who once had good-paying blue-collar jobs but who now must make do with under-employment, working two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet… abortion.

Kellie Doucette sits on the Board of an organization called Ibis Reproductive Health, and serves on their Finance Committee.  Ibis provides her biography:

“Kellie Doucette began her career in the health policy field, and worked for over ten years as an actuary in the individual disability and long-term care reinsurance markets in the United States and Bermuda. However, in 2016, she shifted her focus to the political sphere, first as a founding member of Chatham Moms for Change, and then in 2017 as the campaign manager for a local political campaign.  Kellie is currently the Constituency Director working with a congressional campaign in New Jersey’s 11th district, managing the constituency outreach for what has become one of the top watched congressional campaigns and races in the country this election cycle.

Kellie received her AB in Economics from Harvard in 1992 and completed her Associateship of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) in 1999. Kellie is also a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Andrew’s School in Delaware, of which she is a proud alumna and current parent, serving as Chair of the Advancement Committee and a member of the Finance Committee.” 

Ibis is all about abortion.  Its website makes Planned Parenthood look like a bunch of cautious moderates.  It operates several separate websites targeted to potential “client groups” – such as http://www.laterabortion.org/

Ibis even has a website aimed at teenagers with epilepsy, in which it promotes sterilization as a “birth control” option.  No kidding… here, check it out… http://girlswithnerve.com/birth-control/birth-control-options/

Lisa Bhimani Twitter.png

These people are off-the-hook.  Establishment moes and moettes who think they know better because they were well-born or have figured out a way to rig the system in their favor.  Now they want to masquerade as “comrades” and lead a “revolution” that will secure their fortunes and attitudes and leave America and its working people in the dust.  Mikie Sherrill got over on us this year, now Lisa Bhimani is trying for next year.

Are we going to let them get away with it again?

Webber's clone lost in LD26, spin won't change that.

There has been a big effort to re-write the history of what just happened in the Republican primary in Legislative District 26.  The origins of the battle just concluded there go back a few years, to when Daryn Iwicki was running Americans for Prosperity (AFP) in New Jersey. 

Then, things were well on the way to securing AFP's support for increasing the users tax on gasoline in order to end the disastrous cycle of debt and borrowing to fund basic repair and maintenance for the state's transportation system.  After 28 years without an adjustment for inflation -- and 25 years since the revenue from the gas tax produced enough to fund the state's transportation needs -- by 2015, the state was collecting just $750 million from the gas tax while incurring an annual debt cost of $1.1 billion.  Something had to be done.

Senator Steve Oroho (LD24) and others had the idea of getting rid of the estate tax as part of a deal to address the imminent bankruptcy of the state's Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), which funds most of the state's transportation needs.   One of those others was Assemblyman Jay Webber (LD26), who famously advocated such a deal in an opinion piece published in the Star-Ledger on October 14, 2014.  Its title was "Fixing transportation and taxes together." 

Assemblyman Webber advocated raising the gas tax to end the debt cycle and fund the TTF, while offsetting that tax increase with cuts to other taxes.  He zeroed in on the estate tax:

"NEW JERSEY leaders are grappling with three major problems: First, New Jersey has the worst tax burden in the nation. Two, New Jersey's economy suffers from sluggish growth. And third, our state's Transportation Trust Fund is out of money. There is a potential principled compromise that can help solve all of them.

Of the three problems, the Transportation Trust Fund has been getting the most attention lately, and for good reason: It's broke. There is just no money in it to maintain and improve our vital infrastructure. Without finding a solution, we risk watching our roads and bridges grow unsafe and unusable and hinder movement of people and goods throughout the state. That, of course, will exacerbate our state's slow economic growth.

...we should insist that if any tax is raised to restore the TTF, it be coupled with the elimination of a tax that is one of our state's biggest obstacles to economic growth: the death tax. By any measure, New Jersey is the most extreme outlier on the death tax, with worst-in-the-nation status...

New Jersey's death tax is not a concern for the wealthy alone, as many misperceive. We are one of only two states with both an estate and inheritance tax. New Jersey's estate-tax threshold of $675,000, combined with a tax rate as high as 16 percent, means that middle-class families with average-sized homes and small retirement savings are hit hard by the tax.

It also means the tax affects small businesses or family farms of virtually any size, discouraging investment and growth among our private-sector job creators. Compounding the inequity is that government already has taxed the assets subject to the death tax when the money was earned. Because of our onerous estate and inheritance taxes, Forbes magazine lists New Jersey as a place "Not to Die" in 2014.

That's a problem, and it's one our sister states are trying hard not to duplicate. A recent study by Connecticut determined that states with no estate tax created twice as many jobs and saw their economies grow 50 percent more than states with estate taxes. That research prompted Connecticut and many states to reform their death taxes. New York just lowered its death tax, and several other states have eliminated theirs.

The good news is that New Jersey's leaders finally are realizing that our confiscatory death tax is a big deal. A bipartisan coalition of legislators has shown its support for reforming New Jersey's death tax..."

Unfortunately, the leadership at AFP changed and decided to become part of a political strategy advocated by some GOP Senators.  This strategy argued that the gas tax was a game-changer that would result in a backlash that the GOP could harness to achieve power, much in the way they had in 1991-93.  Extensive polling by a well-respected survey research firm was produced in support of what by now had become a certainty in their minds.  The gas tax was a "third rail" (they said) that would end the career of any Republican foolish enough to vote for it and that would propel the GOP into majority status.

When the time came for Jay Webber to be counted as part of a bipartisan coalition to get the deal done, he couldn't be counted on.  Jay got scared off by AFP and people like NJ101.5's Bill Spadea.   Webber began to enthusiastically attack those who did what he advocated doing only a short time before.  One of those was his running mate, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce. 

DeCroce found herself cut off from Webber and running alone -- facing two "anti-gas tax" opponents who made no bones about who they were targeting:  Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce.  Both opponents were Morris County Freeholders with generally conservative records.  One, Freeholder Hank Lyon, specifically identified with Assemblyman Webber and shared many of the same supporters, in addition to the same issues-grid and talking points.  Like Webber, Lyon billed himself a "movement conservative" despite the fact that the father of the modern conservative movement, Ronald Reagan, had not only endorsed the gas tax as a user tax -- he had doubled it as President.

In the end, Freeholder Lyon -- Assemblyman Webber's "clone" -- came up short. 

While some have noted the involvement of non-public, blue-collar, union money in the LD26 race, they neglect to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of prime radio time spent driving up the negatives of the "gas tax" and building momentum to specifically turn out of office legislators who voted for it.  The FCC is currently doing an analysis of the time spent on this campaign and its fair market value.  Add to this the cost of the petroleum lobby's efforts -- in particular AFP -- and we soon see that the working men and women were once again out-spent by corporate interests.

In closing, let us remind our readers that the most effective advertisement used against the Republican ticket in 2008 wasn't reported on any campaign finance or disclosure report.  It was simply a series of commercial broadcasts -- political attack ads, masquerading as comedy.