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.

Is Rendo endorsement the first shot in a GOP civil war?

We were thinking about that stupid statement by that fellow we thought we liked, Carlos Rendo, and who we were prepared to forgive for his anti-religious musings and his work as an immigration attorney.  The statement was made yesterday, by Rendo, in an attack on Republican Steve Lonegan, on behalf of John McCann.

Rendo told InsiderNJ that, of the two, McCann was the "only candidate with an actual record of putting taxpayers first."  

It's funny Rendo put it that way, because "Putting Taxpayers First" is the title of the 2007 book written by Steve Lonegan.  In it, Lonegan provides the blueprint for the conservative movement on how to address New Jersey's worst-in-America business climate and poor record of job creation, the state's highest-in-the-nation property taxes, subsidized COAH housing, the public employees union-dominated education system, and the activist judiciary -- among other things.

We can't expect the younger generation to remember what it was like after party liberals like Christie Whitman and Paulie DiGaetano lost Republicans our majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.  Under Democrats McGreevey and Corzine, the Democrats grew government with tax hikes and new regulations -- and always with Republican support.  Conservatives watched dismayed as the GOP provided the votes to end the death penalty for serial killers, child rapists/ murderers, cop-killers, and terrorists.  

While this was happening, John McCann was threatening to run for Congress, telling GOP leaders that Senator Gerry Cardinale and Assemblyman Scott Garrett were "too conservative" for the 5th District.  McCann's candidacies are cyclical.  Like the cicada, he surfaces from the mud about once a decade.  McCann called himself an "Arlen Specter Republican," going left on the issues, mimicking the Democrats' platform on such issues as abortion and gun-control.

Meanwhile, Steve Lonegan was organizing the modern conservative movement in New Jersey.  He led the fight against the Newark arena taxpayer rip-off, fought  state government borrowing without voter approval all the way to the Supreme Court, winning key concessions and transparency.  The Court's decisions in Lonegan I and Lonegan II paved the way for the (then Senator Leonard) Lance Amendment.  Lonegan organized conservatives to sue to stop eminent domain and taxpayer-funded elections.

Lonegan pulled off the unheard of accomplishment of defeating two statewide ballot questions -- stopping government-funded embryonic stem cell research and a sales tax increase.  Lonegan broke the back of the Corzine administration's plans to hike tolls on state roads and he successfully organized conservatives to stop the RGGI fuel tax.  Again, and again, and again, Steve Lonegan was the essential man -- leading the conservative movement forward, providing hope to the GOP in its darkest days.

Steve Lonegan became the glue that held the conservative movement together in New Jersey.  He took over the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and made it the premier chapter in the nation.  His fundraising prowess saw to it that conservative initiatives had resources.  When the GOP opposed same-sex marriage in 2009-10, it was Lonegan who made the calls to ensure they had the funding.

Because of Steve Lonegan, Chris Christie tacked right in his 2009 campaign for Governor, and New Jersey elected -- and re-elected -- a Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment Governor, something the Whitman/DiGaetano wing of the GOP had long held was an impossibility.  Lonegan held seminars, put together conventions, organized demonstrations and rallies -- a flurry of grassroots activity unheard of in the NJGOP.  He nurtured the careers and helped fund the campaigns of younger conservatives like Mike Doherty, Michael Patrick Carroll, and Alison Littell McHose.

Under Steve Lonegan, AFP became the thing that SRM and ARV have most desperately needed in the last few cycles -- a superPAC able to independently hit the Democrats and hold them to account.  Lonegan's relationships with national conservatives ensured that the efforts of groups like the General Majority PAC would not go unchallenged.  

All this ended abruptly when Steve Lonegan departed New Jersey to work on the national scene.  AFP became a shell of its former self.  Activism died overnight.

And the NJGOP, the SRM, the ARV?  Unprecedented losses over and over again.  You have to go back to the period after the Watergate Scandal (do any YR's or CR's even know what that is?) to find a time when New Jersey Republicans held this few seats in the Legislature.  Next up... the culling of the GOP's congressional delegation in New Jersey.

The Republican Party in New Jersey has been studiously ignoring its conservative base for years.  Meanwhile, its once dominant "country club" crowd has gone Democrat and is now fielding candidates from its ranks against GOP incumbents like Jon Bramnick.  In 2001 there were more so-called "wingers" than "country-clubbers" -- 17 years later, the country-club set is kidding itself if it still believes it counts for more than 20 percent of the party's registered voters. Now it is a discussion between populist "Trump" Republicans and their ideological comrades of the more traditional  "Reagan" right.  It's not your party anymore, Ms. Whitman.

Steve Lonegan's return to New Jersey politics could be a great shot-in-the-arm for the NJGOP, for SRM, and for ARV.  Lonegan has the relationships to bring national conservatives into New Jersey to take on groups like the General Majority PAC.  As we speak, a superPAC composed of medical professionals is forming -- the first of many.  

Unfortunately, there is this Rendo endorsement.  Normally, the endorsement of some moe from Hudson County who got elected mayor in Bergen County wouldn't count for much.  But this guy was the establishment's choice for Lt. Governor, so many conservatives are conflating his move with the establishment's wishes.  This misunderstanding could lead to conflict, which could become a very debilitating civil war at a time when resources are thin and the congressional delegation is at stake.

Right now, New Jersey Congressional Republicans are not speaking with a single voice on any issue and they are certainly not following the President in any collective fashion.  There are a lot of GOP messages out there.  Taking back CD05 is going to be a formidable challenge, with holding CD02 perhaps more difficult.  Congressman Frelinghuysen has been taking a terrific beating for months and faces a very attractive opponent.   If Josh Gottheimer doesn't wake up with a sore ass every morning, if Jeff Van Drew isn't sledge-hammered regularly, if Rodney doesn't learn how to punch back... the Democrats with all their money and all their superPACs are going to move on new opportunities.  It is time to stop them.

Does anyone really believe that a candidate like John McCann can even piss straight?  For years he's lived in the moist dirt of county patronage politics, sucking up what the boys -- Republicans and Democrats -- feed him.  McCann is where he is because he threatened to run in a primary against conservative Republican incumbent Gerry Cardinale.  That's right, this asswipe thought it was a good idea to primary Senator Cardinale and make SRM spend money it didn't have, so there would be less to spend fighting the Democrats in November.

Oh, and at the time, McCann was the patronage employee of Democrat Sheriff Michael Saudino, who would have had to sign-off on his antics.  No conflict there, right?

At the time, Bergen County GOP boss Paulie DiGaetano was messing in a divisive primary of his own (one he couldn't raise money for) and dissuaded McCann by promising him the Congressional nomination.  Paulie got crushed in the primary and here we are now.  McCann thinks the nomination is his by gift from a party boss who couldn't raise the money required to fund his own legislative race!  Does anybody think Josh Gottheimer is going to take this clown seriously?  Josh will be able to campaign fulltime in CD11.

Steve Lonegan's presence on the ballot has given new life to the state's conservative movement.  It has energized the base, made them happy, and caused them to think well of the GOP.  Carlos Rendo's stupid move has jeopardized that and the conspiracy theories are already circulating.

John McCann can't raise the money, can't stir the troops, won't rally the base, and will only provide Josh Gottheimer with the leisure to make mischief in another district.  But maybe that's all beside the point.  Perhaps his loyalties are still with Democrat Saudino?  As has been suggested, perhaps he is one of them?