Why NJ Republicans are falling behind other states.

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How come Republicans do better there than here?  That’s a frequently asked question… and is just as frequently noted.

New Jersey Republicans have lost Republican legislators throughout the Christie years.  Whether we hold the Governor’s office or not, we lose.  Why?

Could it have something to do with our message and who it’s aimed at?

As a comparison, let’s look at neighboring Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania went blue before New Jersey did… but went red in 2016 – providing the electoral margin that gave Donald Trump the presidency. 

In Pennsylvania, both parties play to their base.  As a result – according to a recent Philadelphia Inquirer analysis – blue areas are getting bluer and red areas redder.  What that means is that even when the top of the ticket loses – as it did in 2014 and 2018 – Republicans in the Legislature hold their majorities in BOTH chambers of the Legislature.  Take a look at the map of Republican representation in Pennsylvania’s Legislature in 2008.  Red is Republican and Blue is Democrat…

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Now here is Republican representation in Pennsylvania’s Legislature ten years later – in 2018:

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In contrast, both parties play to the Democrats’ base in New Jersey.  As a result, the situation is quite different for the GOP in New Jersey… “in retreat” would be a kind way of putting it. 

According to the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study, 70.6 percent of Americans self-identify as “Christian” – with 25.4 percent belonging to  Evangelical Protestant denominations, 14.7 percent Mainline Protestant, and 20.8 percent Roman Catholic.  With most Evangelical denominations, there’s over a 40 percent spread in favor of Republicans when it comes to voting habits.  So it follows that it would make sense to at least keep in touch with these voters and turn as many out to vote as possible.  And that’s exactly what happens in Pennsylvania.

But not in New Jersey.   

Transgender people only make up about 0.6 percent of the U.S. population—and of that already slim minority, just two percent of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey said they were Republican.  Too often, this is who the GOP targets its message towards in New Jersey.

Don’t believe us?  Then read this statement from the Bob Hugin for United States Senate campaign:  “Bob Hugin strongly supports equality and opportunity for the LGBTQ community and will be a leader on these issues as senator.  If President Trump wants to roll back equality and opportunity for the LGTBQ community, Bob Hugin won't hesitate to stand up to the president.”

Can anyone point to a similar campaign statement made on behalf of the Pro-Life community?  Or the Evangelical community?  Or traditional values Christians of any kind?  All of these groups are far more inclined to vote Republican and are far greater in numbers than 0.6 percent.  But instead of making the most of what would come to them naturally, the GOP in New Jersey too often finds itself trying to expand that 2 percent of 0.6 percent… and hoping it will become a wave.

How else can you explain the fact that New Jersey was the only state delegation in America to send a transgendered person to the 2016 Republican National Convention?  And this is NEW JERSEY, where the party establishment selects carefully chosen insiders to run as delegates to the Republican National Convention.  In this case however, the candidate didn’t even need to run and instead was selected as a special, add-on delegate. 

How many Evangelical pastors got to go to the 2016 Republican National Convention as part of the New Jersey delegation?  How about some real diversity?

Hey, if a transgendered person can swallow the RNC platform, she or he is more than welcome in our big tent… but don’t throw out everyone else just to make it comfortable for her.  That doesn’t get you a big tent, it gets you the sack… you lose elections.

The transgendered person who got to go to the 2016 National Convention is a well-known activist for LGBTQ causes and is active with the LGBTQ Victory Institute Candidate & Campaign Training program for 2019.  The Victory Institute is in the process of training dozens of liberal candidates to take on traditional Republicans throughout the country.  In a recent news story, this LGBTQ activist/ RNC delegate had this to say about traditional Republicans:

“As a Republican, I’m disappointed.  I’m disappointed at how a minor offshoot of the Republican party—one that's very bent on religious freedom—is really directing our current administration to take away the liberty, freedom, and equality that millions of Americans who just happened to be LGBTQ currently enjoy.”

Traditional Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Evangelicals are not “minor offshoots” of the Republican Party.  It’s the majority of America.  It’s a majority that enjoys its religious freedom and holds it dear.  It is a majority that does not want to see its daughters made to shower with anatomical males.  It is a majority that doesn’t like the creep of criminalization occurring in other countries when supposedly free people fail to use the “correct” pronoun to describe someone.

Save Jersey’s Matt Rooney recently wrote a well-received call to arms for New Jersey Republicans to rediscover social issues.  As we have seen, the embedded social liberalism and ongoing contempt for Christian conservatives by well-placed Republican operatives in New Jersey will make progress towards Rooney’s goal difficult but not impossible.  There is a lot of work to do.

Ross Perot predicted the rise of Mercury-type consultant-lobbyists in 1992

"We've shipped million of jobs overseas and we have a strange situation because we have a process in Washington where after you served for a while you cash in, become a foreign lobbyist, make thirty-thousand-dollars a month, then take a leave (to) work on Presidential campaigns, make sure you've got good contacts, and then go back out."  (Ross Perot, 1992 Presidential Debate)

Is the idea of "two political parties" an illusion to make voters believe they have a choice?  Comedian George Carlin thought so...

Carlin was only half-joking.  In New Jersey, the top leaders of both parties share office space in the same law and lobby firms.  The same public relations firms/ political consultants advise both Democrats and Republicans -- as well as corporations and foreign governments.  Take Mercury Public Affairs as an example.

Once upon a time, there were campaign managers who came up through the ranks alongside the politicians whose careers they helped to manage.  From these managers came the first campaign consultants.  Regional or statewide at first, but with the centralizing power of the national committees and national money there soon came to be the "national" consultant -- recommended by one of the party committees or put in place by them.

But as more money washed into DC and was funneled into campaigns, that changed.  Consultants proliferated and firms became larger.  Following the money, a few either merged with or morphed into public relations and lobbying (government relations) operations.  Why not?  Corporations paid big for access to politicians and there is nobody politicians love more than the person who got them elected.

It was only a matter of time that things went global.  And that is how a number of New Jersey political operatives became members of an international firm that represents the interests of quite a few unsavory foreign governments.  These include Mo Butler, United States Senator Cory Booker's campaign consultant, former chief of staff, and "longtime advisor"; Michael Soliman, United States Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Robert Menendez's political advisor and former State Director; and Michael DuHaime, Governor Chris Christie's campaign consultant and someone who has worked on several Republican presidential campaigns.

Mercury Public Affairs began in 1999 as a decidedly Republican shop with connections to the RNC and politicians like John McCain and Mitt Romney, around 2013 it embarked on a mission to "diversify" -- meaning making the firm "more bipartisan and full-service."  Mike DuHaime joined the firm in 2009, first as a "managing director" but swiftly rising to partner.  Michael Soliman joined Mercury in 2013 and became a partner in 2016.  Mo Butler joined as a "managing director" in 2016.  Mercury Public Affairs has 10 partners and 160 employees. 

Mercury Public Affairs is itself a subsidiary of an even larger international firm that handles the image-making for Russian President Vladimir Putin, receiving credit for, among other accomplishments, getting Putin's face on the cover of Time magazine -- as the "Person of the Year" for 2007.  Omnicom purchased Mercury in 2003.

Mercury Public Affairs has 18 offices worldwide -- including London; Mexico City; Washington, DC; New York; and Westfield, New Jersey.  The New Jersey offices (a satellite operates out of Trenton) of Mercury are the haunt of Messrs. DuHaime, Soliman, Butler, and other connected operatives like newspaperman Darryl Isherwood (former top political reporter for the Star-Ledger and editor of PolitickerNJ), and "Christie campaign vet" Mark Mowers. 

In January 2015, Michael Soliman registered with the United States Justice Department, pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as a person representing the Embassy of the State of Qatar.  You must have read about Qatar in the news...Amnesty International has accused Qatar of being complicit in human trafficking and modern-day slavery.  Yes, slavery.  In fact, the United Nations gave Qatar one year "to end migrant worker slavery" or face an international investigation. 

Qatar is just one of freedom's garden spots represented by Mercury Public Affairs.  Remember the controversy in Uganda, when the President of that country decided that homosexuality was a crime that should be punishable by death?  Well, the law he wanted passed was "moderated" in December 2013, substituting life imprisonment for the death penalty.   In 2015, Mercury was brought on to provide public relations, lobbying, and media monitoring services with regards to the Office of the President and the Ugandan government in general on subjects beginning with "human rights" and ending with "good governance."  For which the contract calls for Mercury to be compensated at the rate of $50,000 per month, with $150,000 up front.

Mercury also represents individuals.  Folks like Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who in 2003 led an anti-American demonstration in which he personally burned an American flag.  For its work, Mercury pocketed a $30,000 monthly retainer, plus expenses.

In January 2016, Mercury Public Affairs partner Morris Reid negotiated a contract with Amsterdam & Partners, an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, DC.  The document is marked "confidential and privileged" but is public information under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  In August of 2015, Amsterdam & Partners signed a contract with the Turkish Ambassador to the United States to provide legal services related to a "matter of importance" to the embassy.  The government of Turkey paid Amsterdam a retainer of $50,000 a month.

While the contract stipulates that the greatest security and confidentiality be observed, under the terms of the contract between Amsterdam and Turkey, third parties may be hired "as the Firm and the Client agree in writing are necessary to further the Engagement."  And so, in March of 2016, Amsterdam hired Mercury to perform work on behalf of the Turkish government for $20,000 a month -- above and beyond what was being paid to Amsterdam by Turkey.  It is in the contract between Amsterdam & Partners and Mercury Public Affairs that we learn what all this cloak and dagger is in aid of.  The Amsterdam-Mercury contract references an "investigation into Fethullah Gulen and his organization in the United States."  So who is Fethullah Gulen?

Gulen has been in the news since the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016.  Gulen is a religious leader from Turkey, and a one-time political ally of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Erdogan is the increasingly authoritarian and Islamist President of Turkey.  He has been repeatedly in the news for purging the judiciary, jailing journalists who write unflattering reports, and successfully intimidating the opposition.  Erdogan had a law passed to allow the government to ban websites and he has promised to "rip out the roots" of Twitter.  He has even attempted to censor speech in other nations, in 2015 Turkey demanding that Germany prosecute a poet who had written some verse critical of Erdogan.

Erdogan and Gulen had a falling out over allegations of political corruption by Erdogan in 2013.  Gulen's books were banned.  First, he was indicted on charges that a Turkish judge threw out, but then was indicted a few months later for treasonable offenses that carried the death penalty.  Gulen fled Turkey, came to the United States, and was convicted in absentia. 

The government of Turkish President Erdogan has attempted to extradite Gulen back to Turkey to face punishment, but the government of the United States hasn't cooperated.  In the hours after the coup attempt, Erdogan was quick to blame Gulen, while Gulen put forward the theory that Erdogan had staged the coup himself in order to consolidate power.

Why does Mercury Public Affairs want to be a part of extraditing a moderate cleric to satisfy the rage of an Islamist dictator? 

Last year, Mercury Public Affairs was the subject of a subpoena in the on-going investigation into Russia's meddling in the United States presidential election in 2016.  According to the Washington Post, former FBI Director and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller obtained the subpoena seeking information about work Mercury had done for a pro-Putin political party in the Ukraine:

"The investigators asked Mercury for information about their public relations work at Manafort’s behest for a Brussels-based organization called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which pushed for improved relations between Ukraine and European countries. The Brussels group primarily advanced the interests of a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party that had been a client of Manafort’s before he joined the Trump campaign.

Mercury, which has prominent Republicans among its senior partners, had worked on the Ukraine lobbying project with the Podesta group, led by Anthony Podesta, brother of John Podesta, who led Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign."

The full article can be accessed below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/washington-lobbying-firms-receive-subpoenas-as-part-of-russia-probe/2017/08/25/55e547de-89c2-11e7-a50f-e0d4e6ec070a_story.html?utm_term=.f43579514869

This is exactly what Presidential candidate Ross Perot warned about in 1992.  He said our politics was headed here and here we are...  some of New Jersey's "top political operatives" are now foreign agents (as far as the U.S. Justice Department is concerned).

How can any of this be good for our Republic?

Who are the Red-Shirts?

NJ 101.5 talk radio host Bill Spadea began using the term "Red-Shirt" in association with his campaigns for public office.  Later, he labeled members of his "Building a New Majority" movement as "Red Shirt volunteers."

It will be remembered that Spadea's ideology was on full display when -- in the 1990's, he ran the College Republican National Committee.  In 1995, numerous media outlets reported that the Republican National Committee cut off all funding to Spadea's group after it paid for advertisements that attacked Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush and urged the formation of a far-right alternative to the Republican Party.

Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour has written a letter to College Republican National Committee Chairman Bill Spadea, stating that "because of the recent and continuing irresponsible conduct" of the CRNC, "under your leadership, the RNC will cease contributing to your efforts."

"The conduct referred to has been the subject of repeated discussions between our organizations," said Mr. Barbour, ". . . yet you have chosen to continue your irresponsible activities."  (The Washington Times, January 31, 1995) 

RNC Chairman Haley Barbour recently informed the college group that he was cutting off funds, including rent and salaries, and rerouting phone calls to the national party's office because an article in the magazine urged formation of a third party.  

Tense relations between the two groups stem from Spadea's extreme conservative views. RNC members feel he represents only a small, extreme faction, but Spadea says he has national support.  

''What I'm doing is publishing ideas that are raging throughout the party already,'' Spadea said in an interview from his new office in Vienna, Va.  The December issue of the magazine - in addition to advocating creation of a third party with political views to the right of the Republican Party - also contained an advertisement attacking Republican presidents Reagan and Bush.  

The RNC provided 60 percent of the group's $120,000 budget for 1994, but Spadea said he no longer wants that money. (Memphis Commercial Appeal, February 5, 1995)

So from where in American history does the term "Red Shirt" come?  Wikipedia provides this information:

The Red Shirts or Redshirts of the Southern United States were white supremacist[1][2] paramilitary groups that were active in the late 19th century after the end of the Reconstruction era of the United States. They first appeared in Mississippi in 1875, when Democratic Party private terror units adopted red shirts to make themselves more visible and threatening to Southern Republicans, both white and freedmen. Similar groups in the Carolinas also adopted red shirts.

Among the most prominent Red Shirts were the supporters of Democratic Party candidate Wade Hampton during the campaigns for the South Carolina gubernatorial elections of 1876 and 1878.[3] The Red Shirts were one of several paramilitary organizations, such as the White League in Louisiana, arising in the continuing efforts of white Democrats to regain political power in the South in the 1870s. These groups acted as "the military arm of the Democratic Party."[4]

While sometimes engaging in violence, the Red Shirts, the White League and similar groups in the late nineteenth century worked openly and were better organized than the secret vigilante groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. They had one goal: the restoration of the Democrats to power by getting rid of Republicans, which usually meant repressing civil rights and voting by freedmen.[5] During the 1876, 1898 and 1900 campaigns in North Carolina, the Red Shirts played prominent roles in intimidating non-Democratic voters.

According to E. Merton Coulter in The South During Reconstruction, the red shirt was adopted in Mississippi in 1875 by "southern brigadiers" opposed to black Republicans. The Red Shirts disrupted Republican rallies, intimidated or assassinated black leaders, and discouraged black voting at the polls.

The red shirt in South Carolina appeared in Charleston on August 25, 1876, during a Democratic torchlight parade. It was to mock the waving of the bloody shirt speech by Senator Oliver Morton in the Senate that was meant to bolster support for the Republicans' Reconstruction policies in South Carolina. The red shirt symbolism quickly spread. The accused in the Hamburg Massacre wore red shirts as they marched on September 5 to their arraignment in Aiken, South Carolina. Martin Gary, the organizer of the Democratic campaign in 1876, mandated that his supporters were to wear red shirts at all party rallies and functions.

Wearing a red shirt became a source of pride and resistance to Republican rule for white Democrats in South Carolina. Women sewed red flannel shirts and made other garments of red. It also became fashionable for women to wear red ribbons in their hair or about their waists. For young men, a red shirt was viewed as compensation for their inability to have contributed to the Southern cause because of their age.[6]

So now you know the rest of the story.

The Way of the Baboon (or why Spadea pissed on Reagan)

Baboons don't hunt other species.  Instead, they employ their ferocious looking teeth to attack and injure other baboons.  Some Republicans are like this too.

Unlike so many conservative websites in the past, this website has made a point to refrain from focusing on the sins of those in the nominally right-of-center party.  We figured they have problems enough, and there is so much ready trade amongst the Democrats, so much to criticize, that... why bother the GOP?  And so we have generally given Republicans a free ride, made them exempt from the focus of our criticism -- even as some of them have adopted social policies that would have made "the gimp" from Pulp Fiction wince.

If anything, we preferred the softly, softly approach with Republicans.  We tried to talk with them, even when our meetings were cancelled and our points of view dismissed. Once we even had to suffer a chief of staff whose demeanor towards us was akin to that of Miss Beulah Ballbreaker from the movie Porky's.

But even when showered with such rude affections from the leaders of our own party, we refrained from finger-pointing. 

Others have taken a different path.  Fox News and NJ 101.5's news host Bill Spadea -- a former candidate for Congress and the Legislature who collected tens of thousands in political contributions from his fellow Republicans , and who very recently fronted for a political action committee devoted to electing local members of the GOP, blithely accused a Republican legislator of criminal misconduct the other day.  And he did so with all the gravity one uses to direct someone to a toilet. 

To be fair with Spadea, he's been dumping on Republicans for some time.  Back when he ran the national College Republicans, then RNC National Chairman (and future Governor) Haley Barbour felt obliged to unfund Spadea's organization after it attacked both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush for not being Republican enough.  It takes some kind of balls for a college kid to call out the father of the modern conservative movement for not being "pure" enough.

Some of the people Spadea had on his show are even worse.  They're members of a 16-person caucus.  Just 16.  It's like a big family.  16 is small enough that you should -- after 8 or 9 years -- get to know each other and be able to talk to each other.  But instead of talking, one of these 16 legislators put another one up to call out a third.  So this involved about a fifth of the caucus.  And what did the one put up to call the other one out accuse him of -- gross criminal misconduct and political corruption.  And the joke of it is, the one called out is probably the biggest boy scout in Trenton.

So this was just egregious, nasty, damaging behavior for its own sake:  Hurt and injure your own rather than going after the other side.  It's the way of the baboon.