The NJGOP is broadening its base under Steinhardt

In last week’s column comparing the state fiscal rescue plan put forward by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-03) with the tax-cut plan backed by Republican Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), we wrote :  “This situation might be different if New Jersey Republicans had taken the time to build a base of small dollar donors and activists.  But as fundraiser Ali Steinstra noted at the March NJGOP Leadership Summit, broad-based Republican fundraising can only be accomplished by appeals to the party’s conservative base.   

The GOP establishment in New Jersey is barely on speaking terms with its base, so the ground has not been prepared.  We have no equivalent to what the NJEA and the Norcross super PACs will throw against us, so pissing on a hornet’s nest probably isn’t a good idea.  At this moment in time, it is more likely to motivate the kind of turnout that will cost us another four or more seats in November.

Assembly Leader Bramnick has a sensible, Republican plan that addresses the problem of spending and taxation.  It avoids drawing fire from well-organized, well-funded interest groups.  Those on the ballot this year have a choice to make.”

Apparently we had failed to notice that under the leadership of Chairman Doug Steinhardt, the Republican State Committee (NJGOP) has been pioneering new methods of grassroots fundraising, including the use of “investor reports” to set goals and inspire donors.  The idea of investor reports was summed up by Chairman Steinhardt:  “You don’t invest in a business without a prospectus or something else that lets you know it’s a good investment. We created these with the same idea in mind. It’s been very successful.”

 Some highlights of the NJGOP’s success:
- There were just 68 active donors when Chairman Steinhardt took over.
- As of March 30th, there were more than 1800 active donors. 
- Of these 79% were small dollar donors (under $200).
- There has been a 29% increase in new donors in 2019.
- 2019 had the best first quarter fundraising since 2015 (accomplished without a Governor in office and after the set-backs of 2018).
- The NJGOP team of 3 full and 2 part time employees have logged 20,000 miles to grass roots events as of April 30 vs 25,000 in all of 2018.

Chairman Steinhardt noted that that the NJGOP was “reconnecting with Republicans and it’s showing.”  Kudos to the Chairman and his team.

Bramnick has a message. Will NJ Republicans follow?

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick recently released this most excellent video.  Bramnick starts by detailing what Republicans are against

But then, more importantly, Bramnick lays out three solid policy positions that points New Jersey Republicans in the direction of what we should be for

(1) Cap State Spending at 2% (just like local government spending is capped).

(2) Cut the State Income Tax by 10% (make NJ more competitive w. other states).

(3) Full Deduction of Property Taxes on the State Income Tax (a move that takes the property tax issue away from Democrats like Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Josh Gottheimer).

In the video, Bramnick is engaging, folksy, and compelling.  So finally, here is the core of something to move the Republican Party forward.  So why isn’t everyone banging the same drum? 

Two days after Bramnick’s video went up on Youtube, the NJGOP – the State Republican Party – blasted out its weekly newsletter via email.  There was some very good stuff in there.  Unfortunately, the Assembly Republican Leader’s video was not part of the newsletter.  An oversight that should be corrected at the earliest opportunity. 

On Thursday, the Garden State Initiative – a free-market, pro-business think tank – held a meeting about the state of New Jersey’s economy and how it can be improved.  All the experts present agreed that the business climate went south after the Democrats gained control over the Legislature, nearly two decades ago.

That said, the most prominent plan for recovery featured at the gathering was the one put forward by Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat and so a leader in the party responsible for the downturn in the first place.  As with legislation protecting the Bill of Rights (specifically the 2nd Amendment) and culturally traditionalist social legislation (like the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Protection Act), the Senate President will always be handicapped in how much he can accomplish by his need to appease the far-Left of his party’s caucus.  In the end, Sweeney will go as far as Leftist Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg allows him to go – and is anyone under the illusion that this Marxist-lite fellow-traveler is pro-business or pro-taxpayer?

In a column published on his Save Jersey news website, Matt Rooney brilliantly dissected the Trenton Democrats last week…  

We hear a lot about the “working class” from Trenton, but each and every policy and budget are designed to put the screws to taxpayers in favor of keeping these rich guys and their power structures chugging right along.

What I’m saying is that Democrats’ lofty rhetoric doesn’t match their reality. On either side of this fight. New Jersey’s true form of government is a blend of socialism and oligarchy (with a sprinkle of kleptocracy for good measure).

So why aren’t pro-business and pro-taxpayer forces pushing the Republican Plan put forward by Bramnick and making its three points the basis of not only the recovery of our party’s fortunes, but those of the state’s taxpayers?  Why aren’t they pulling together behind the Bramnick plan, then building on it, to tackle the obvious divide between the haves (those municipalities who bathe in money, courtesy of the Abbott decision) and the have nots (those who pay the highest property taxes in America)?   

As New Jersey 101.5’s Dennis Malloy recently noted, the public frustration over property taxes and government in the Garden State is stifling:  “Being the state with the highest property taxes in the nation used to be the number one issue in almost any campaign for public office in New Jersey. Lately, (crickets)! Why? …most people have given up hope that it will ever be normal or fair or affordable to most people. There is no one on the horizon with the guts to be honest about it and promise to fix it…” 

And yet, in the midst of this frustration, there are thousands of brave souls who are spending their time and energy – both in and outside social media – to address the oppression of their neighbors and fellow taxpayers.  Too often, they find themselves on their own, without the assistance or direction from the Republican Party, the business community, or even established figures within the state’s conservative movement. 

Take the grassroots effort to Recall Governor Phil Murphy, as an example.  This effort is in the process of training hundreds of volunteers in the basics of one-on-one political outreach that could be harvested in future GOTV operations.  But is anyone providing them with any real assistance?  Listen to this appeal from one of the most effective recall leaders, Bill Hayden of Sussex County:

https://www.facebook.com/raidenhayden/videos/10214053859525724/?notif_id=1557702128406942&notif_t=live_video

In May 1940, the allied armies of France, Great Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands faced the threat posed by a newly re-armed Germany.  One of the great myths about the Fall of France is that the Germans had more tanks.  They did not.  In numbers, weaponry, and armor-protection, the German tanks were outclassed by those of the French Army and its allies.  So why did the Germans so easily over-power the superior tanks of the French?

The French used their tanks piecemeal and fought actions individually.  Many were not even equipped with radios.  The Germans fought coordinated actions, in which not only individual tanks within a unit fought in support of each other, but entire units worked in concert with other units to achieve a particular goal.  It wasn’t hardware that won the battle, but tactics – how the hardware was used. 

The three major units of New Jersey’s Republican Party – the State Committee (NJGOP), the Senate Republican Majority (SRM), and the Assembly Republican Victory (ARV) – do not work in concert or present a unified message or vision.  From there is gets worse.  Each county, each candidate, each club marches to its own beat.  And the party is barely on speaking terms with the movement conservatives who make up its base and constitute its most loyal voters.  Working together could amplify a message and make it punch through to distracted voters.  But instead of amplification, we have a cacophony of murmurs, each from its own silo.   

Jon Bramnick has offered a simple, three-point way forward.  Everyone should amplify it.  That would make a start at working in concert.

At Thursday’s meeting, Garden State Initiative President Regina Egea said voters should ask every politician how they intend to lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business.  The Bramnick Plan provides the answers.

Like in 1991, the NJGOP needs to hold a convention.

Take yourself back to September 1991.  The legislative midterm elections were less than two months away.  New Jersey was in the second year of a Democrat Governor, following eight Republican years.  The State Senate had not been in GOP hands for 18 years.  The Assembly was last Republican in 1989. 

1,032 delegates from across New Jersey attended the State Republican Convention that year.  They were exhorted by former Governor Tom Kean, who reminded them “that they must do more than criticize Florio and Democratic lawmakers” to wrest control of the Statehouse in the November elections: “People want to know what you're for, not just what you're against,” he said. “Attacking the present administration is not enough.”

The delegates discussed and debated issues… adopted a state party platform… and defined who they were.  In November, Republicans won a landslide victory and took control of both chambers of the Legislature.  Two years later, they took the Governor’s office too.

In contrast to last month’s gathering of the GOP in Atlantic City, the 1991 convention at Rutgers University was about policy, message, and people – it had a grassroots feel to it.  While the current state party operation is dominated by Trenton-centered professional operatives and consultants, in 1991 the party was still one of stakeholders – people with networks in their communities and districts.

New Jersey Republicans are suffering a crisis of identity.  And it’s not just the old controversies over social issues.  The current “favorite” for Governor in 2021 – former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli – called Donald Trump a “charlatan” who is “out of step with the Party of Lincoln” and an “embarrassment to the nation.”

The NJGOP can’t seem to make up its mind on something as basic as the tax restructuring package – championed by former Governor Chris Christie – that ended the Estate Tax, cut a bevy of other taxes, prevented a huge property tax hike, and provided enough property tax relief to enable places like Warren County to actually cut property taxes.  Some Republicans seem determined to run against one of Governor Christie’s hallmark accomplishments.  Let’s hash this thing out once and for all.  

Legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana is another issue.  Although both Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick have done admirable jobs of holding their delegations together on this – there are all these lobbyists occupying party office who are nibbling away at the resolve of individual legislators and there is no formal party position on this or any other issue of substance.

A convention could be just the thing to resolve these conflicts, to pull everyone together around what we agree on, our principles and objectives, to create a message, and build that message out with a platform of policies – which could then be fleshed out by people like Regina Egea and her Garden State Initiative.  Thus far, the only prescriptions offered by the NJGOP have been which consultant a candidate should hire or new “game changing” technology to employ.  These do not take the place of having an actual message to run on – as the past few election cycles have shown. 

Once upon a time, New Jersey Republicans knew how to tell their story.  Now it seems they’ve lost the art – or at least the plot.  Nothing like a gathering to bring everyone together to remember who they are, put it down on paper… and then go out and sell it.

Regina Egea: Why can’t NJ do what Massachusetts did?

ReginaEgea.png

Regina Egea is one of the smartest thinkers on public policy in New Jersey.  An M.B.A., former AT&T executive, state Treasury Department official, and Governor’s Chief of Staff – Egea also served in local government as a Deputy Mayor and School Board Member.  As President of the Garden State Initiative, she is collecting the data, studying the issues, and coming up with solutions to New Jersey’s most pressing fiscal concerns.

For New Jersey Republicans, she’s a breath of fresh air in a political culture too often dominated by stale thinking.  If the NJGOP wants to seriously contest for power again, it will be folks like Regina Egea who will provide the policy prescriptions that will inform the narrative on why Republicans should be elected.

Egea recently wrote:  “It is clear that we are at our ‘fork in the road’ in New Jersey and there’s a clear path to improve our economy. Massachusetts decided a generation ago to shed its ‘Taxachussetts’ label and cut its taxes by 25% between 1977 and 2014 while growing its economy and maintaining a public school system at the top of national rankings at a lower cost per pupil than New Jersey… we need leadership now willing to make the necessary reforms to reduce spending in Trenton and throughout New Jersey governments before ‘it’s over.’”

Below are excerpts from Regina Egea’s op-ed published yesterday in the Star-Ledger and on NJ.com:

“New Jersey… is losing income tax revenue. Using 2015-16 IRS data, the Bank of America analysis indicates that high tax states – such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California – are currently experiencing a net loss of high income earners (defined by the Internal Revenue Service). Florida, which has no state income tax, experienced a net gain of over $17 billion in income between 2015 and 2016… In this same time period, New Jersey experienced a loss of approximately $3 billion.”

“The research firm Wealth X reported New Jersey lost 5,700 people with liquid assets between $1 million-$30 million in 2018 – and that’s before the implications of the state and local tax (SALT) cap on federal taxes have truly been felt.”

“The Bank of America also references a February TheHill.com article citing U.S. Census data that states growing in population are usually ‘the same states with lower tax and regulatory burdens, lower government debt and greater transparency and accountability for government spending.’”

“Ironically, New Jersey is turning being home to a relatively high number of ‘millionaires’ into a strategic vulnerability. The top 2 percent of all N.J. income tax filers (who make more than $500,000 per year) account for over 40 percent of all income tax revenue to the state. Since close to 40 percent of state revenues are from personal income taxes, that means more than a third of all state revenues come from the top 1 percent of residents. Increasing dependence on revenue from this group exacerbates our vulnerability. An individual loss in this income category reverberates throughout the state.”

“Now we’re at New Jersey’s ‘Fork in the Road.’ An example of one alternate path is just up I-95 in Massachusetts, where the highest marginal personal income tax rate is just 5 percent, compared to New Jersey where the rate is 10.75 percent (third-highest in the nation). Our second highest in the nation corporate income tax rate of 11.5 percent will inevitably lead to market share loss to not just Massachusetts’ 8 percent rate but other attractive states like North Carolina’s 2.5 percent rate, which helped to lure Honeywell from New Jersey.”

“Massachusetts solidly outflanks the Garden State when it comes to property taxes ($37 versus $51 per $1,000 of personal income) as well as the size of public workforces: theirs is 8 percent smaller than New Jersey.  And Massachusetts, whose annual K-12 education performance closely rivals New Jersey’s, spends nearly 20 percent less on a per pupil basis.”

To read Regina Egea’s entire op-ed, click the link below:

https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/04/nj-is-at-a-fork-in-the-road-policy-group-says-its-time-to-take-the-less-taxing-path.html

For more information on the Garden State Initiative, explore their website:

https://www.gardenstateinitiative.org/

Tucker Carlson: Do Republicans know who their base is?

Tucker Carlson had author J.D. Vance on last evening…

Closer to home, New Jersey Republicans are searching for a winning message with which to build a defensive wall around their remaining legislative districts – and as a springboard for taking back some of what has been lost. While those professionals with experience running campaigns appear to be no closer to coming up with an umbrella message under which they can unify the party, activists like John Robert Carman of the New Jersey Constitutional Republicans (NJCR), are taking a stab at it…

John Robert Carman writes:

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhart, NJGOP Executive Director, Therese Winegar and GOP State Director, Ron Filan. I shared with them the 5 Point Plan the New Jersey Constitutional Republicans could help initiate with NJGOP to lead Republicans, “On to Victory” in New Jersey.

The 5-Point Plan consists of Point 1: Restoration- The historical circumstances that existed in the 1850’s leading to Civil War are uncannily like our present situation in NJ, and the nation. As Lincoln restored the initial principles of the Declaration of Independence being, the equality of all mankind before the law; natural rights (life, liberty & the environment from which to pursuit happiness); protecting the right of each person to own and keep property and the legitimacy of government by consent of the people.

Lincoln incorporated the necessity of preserving the Constitution in protecting the principles of the Declaration of Independence and thereby, assuring the preservation of our Union which is precisely what is needed in our fractured state and nation today. In restoring these initial Republican principles, we return to the solid foundation of our founding documents and incorporate these ideals and values into every sphere of public policy. Republican voters and those who want to vote Republican are looking for a distinct contrast from the Democrats in philosophy and ideology. A return to initial Republican principles will clearly demonstrate the difference and strengthen our Party.

Point 2: Education-The Key to Republican Resurgence in NJ! This is NJCR’s forte and encompasses many areas of study that positively starts with history; knowing the founding documents and the spirit of their intent. Educating citizens on constitutional republican government, limited government and the proper role of representative government. Educating citizens on the initial values of the Republican Party; equality under law; liberty and justice for all, due process, and individual accountability and responsibility. Educating our citizens on the necessity of civics and the forgotten , yet indispensable role the citizens plays in forming fair and just public policy. Educating citizens on the Laws of Nature and Natures’ God which are perpetual and remain constant throughout time and place. Educating also includes the negative impact progressivism and marxism and their significant role in marginalizing our constitutional republic leading to the great dilemma and division in our state and nation today. NJCR looks to participate with NJGOP in offering educational presentations throughout the state with County GOP organizations and Young Republican organizations that equip our citizens with the knowledge and encouragement they will need to enthusiastically nurture Republican voters and assure Republican representation at the local, state and national stages.

Point 3: Preservation: The Republican Party is the last, best hope for the preservation of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution protecting those principles. Republicans are the only entity standing between a tyrannical mobocracy and the natural rights of individual liberty and justice the Constitution assures. The Democrats are determined to eliminate the principles of the DOI and the Constitution. Republicans must proclaim the message that we are the sole defenders of our Constitution and the only Party with the desire, ability and facility to protect it.

Point 4: Participation: Self Governance. Having people actively engaged with public policy and making their voices heard in the legislative process. Establishing relationships with their elected representatives, holding them accountable to securing the rights of all citizens they represent, not just those who vote for them, calling them, meeting them, writing them, emailing them. Mobilizing blast calls and immediate calls to action when potential legislation is brought to the State House floor for a vote. Encouraging a consistent dialogue with representatives and our responsibility as leaders of the Republican Party in equipping citizens to be successful in effectively participating in Self-Governance.

Point 5: Unification: Initially the Republican Party was made up of several parties and entities, the Whigs, the Know Nothings, Free Soilers, Union Democrats and Radical Republicans. It was a constant struggle for Lincoln to maintain the unity amongst these factions to abolish slavery; preserve the Union and win the Civil War. Today we must Incorporate all the factions that share our initial values which NJGOP has begun with Grassroots21 initiatives along with the necessity of incorporating fiscal and social conservatives; 2nd Amendment Defenders; Tea Partiers; Right to Lifers; Constitutionalist; MAGA’s; Independents; Unaffiliated, and Blue Dog Democrats all into one unified Republican Party. Give candidates that may come from these factions an opportunity to battle it out in primaries and give them all a sense of ownership within the Party and the belief they can win as Republicans. Go into urban areas and other Democratic strongholds with the initial principles of our Republican Party, promoting new, consistent and lasting relationships within the Black and Latino communities. Meet with Republicans and conservatives within these communities and empower them with all the tools, education and support they would need to reach their communities. This 5 Point Plan can work but only with the participation of thousands of like minded citizens determined to restore Republican principles and values; teaching truth and justice; preserving our constitution and our constitutional republic; participating in public policy making and unifying freedom and liberty motivated citizens all determined to reinstate our sovereignty, We the Peoples sovereignty within government in New Jersey and our nation.  

Join NJGOP and the New Jersey Constitutional Republicans today and may we march “On to Victory.”

Does this message get the job done? Is it motivational, concise, and easy to understand? Can you envision this as the basis for campaign mail, social media, broadcast, cable, and radio ads? In any case, it is a start, so be thankful for that.