While the country debates over the stability of our national economy, New Jersey is still wondering when we will be able to get a handle on our own economy. While Americans cope with a lack of buying power due to the ripple effects of rising energy costs, New Jerseyans wonder how they can deal with that on top of the affordability crisis in our state.
As the current governance of New Jersey consists of rising rates on existing taxes and the implementation of new taxes, the citizens of New Jersey wonder how much more can we pay? As the cost of gas ranges back and forth between unaffordable and impossible the state is looking for opportunities to raise the price that it costs to drive on the roads that we use that gas for. As taxes rise in the state on both consumers and producers costs rise and less is purchased. The less purchased causes less to be produced which leads to more lay offs and more business closings. This is reflected in the states dismal economic growth and it’s lower than average rate of small businesses and the creation of them. Under the current corporate and small business tax structure in New Jersey, starting a business here offers more penalty than profit.
Today we find ourselves desperately seeking leadership and a leader who can inspire us and offer our state a direction that leads to prosperity and a comfortable existence. We seek someone who understands us and our hopes and needs.
For the past 7 years our state leaders have offered us a dog and pony show that has been painful to watch and expensive to deal with.
Before announcing that he “was a gay American” to cover up his scandals, Governor Jim McGreevy exercised statecraft by appointing people to important positions based upon the sexual positions that they enjoyed and their oral talents.
He was followed by a leading financial expert who took part in the risk taking that led to historic federal bailouts. With Governor Jon Corzine, New Jersey was afforded that financial expertise of a state budget that is fueled by tax increases and held hostage to unions and their leaders who he has literally been in bed with.
Carla Katz, the Governor’s former lover and ejected former leader of the state’s largest union , slept with the man that is making the bed that we have to lie in. He even made these union deals in secret and refused proper examination of the evidence that proves the secrecy of their deals. As a result, we are left with meeting the demands of unions gone wild and paying for pensions plans that are more exorbitant than the golden parachutes of failed Wall Street execs.
On top of all this we are constantly witnessing the derailment of public trust as well as the careers of a large chunk of New Jersey’s political class. Each week, and at the beginning of the past summer, each day, we have endured the indictments and convictions of hundreds of lawmakers from the municipal levels to the county and state levels. This is all a product of New Jersey’s proliferation of governments. As the 46th largest state in the nation our size does not limit the opportunity for political corruption. In fact the expansion of state government coupled with the over 650 local governments, makes government the largest employer in the state. It also provides for the inordinate amount of patronage positions, lucrative sweetheart contracts , special favors, graft and opportunity for corruption that the overabundance of government entities brings to the table.
All of this leads to not just an affordability crisis but also a crisis in confidence. A lack of confidence in those who are entrusted with our states effect on our lives. These circumstances have led state government to be more of a problem in our lives than a source of comfort and stability in them.
As a Republican I cannot say that my state GOP has been much of a help. Since Governor Christine Todd Whitman, New Jersey Republicans have lost their agenda, their voice and yheir numbers in the legislative ranks.
The last individual that the party ran for Governor, was not even man enough to take blame for his own lack of influence and ability in the state. In the face of a gubernatorial race that he was out spent, out maneuvered and outdone in, he blamed President George Bush.
In trying to replace Corzine’s handpicked replacement in the United States Senate, the party settled for the unaccomplished son of a very accomplished, former Republican Governor. His candidacy was so off track, uninspiring and unattractive that the embarrassment of his Republican representation forced me to write in the name of a different New Jersey Republican.
The lack of a cohesive agenda and message has made New Jersey Republicans inconsequential. There minority status in the state assembly and senate have left them out in the cold and sitting at the kiddies table when it comes to hammering out state budgets or initiatives.
What we need in New Jersey is a true leader. Someone who can convey the fact that they understand the people they wish to lead. We need someone who is willing to bring a Main Street attitude to Trenton, not the Wall Street mentality that we currently have. We need a leader who can approach government with a vision that inspires state residents and offers innovative directions and policies to expand opportunity for economic growth. Someone who is reform minded , not stuck in a mode of reviving failed policies of our past.
Governor Corzine may or may not be running for reelection in 2009. The way I see it, if his choice for President, Barack Obama , wins, Jon might be jumping ship and accepting a presidential appointment such as Treasury Secretary. After having done all that he has to the state treasury, I can only pray for divine intervention if he gets control of the national treasury. But the nation’s loss might be New Jersey’s gain. It may open up a window of opportunity for Republicans to climb through. With the right candidate who has the right vision and agenda, we might just be able to send the right person to Trenton.
Although I am a conservative, one person I would like to see go for it is John Murphy. The same John Murphy that I wrote in for U.S. Senate against Senator Menendez when Tom Kean, Jr. was the Republican nominee.
Murphy, a Morris County Freeholder, is fresh, bright, fiscally and personally responsible. He may not have the conservative agenda of former gubernatorial candidate and Bogota, NJ Mayor Steve Lonegan but he has something that Lonegan doesn’t….appeal. He also has the freshness that New Jersey’s political atmosphere needs. When Murphy sought the Republican nomination for Governor in 2005, he outlined a very promising vision and a credible, optimistic plan to restore faith in government and solvency in our state budget and the pockets of the people.
It would seem that Murphy may not go for it this time. Instead he may seek the assembly seat being vacated by fellow Morris County resident Rick Merkt and Rick Merkt might be making a run for Governor instead.
Having reviewed the record of Merkt, I can say that his conservative credentials are worthy of considering but I have little more opinion of him. His tenure in the New Jersey assembly has been commendable but he has not been known for injecting innovation and real leadership.
Then there is the 800 lb. gorilla on the scene, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.
In a recent Quinnipiac poll Christie polled 40 percent to Jon Corzine’s 41 percent. That is impressive and if I knew anything about his positions on the issues, I would say that it is encouraging. However, like most New Jersey residents, I know nothing about Christie that goes beyond his exemplary and aggressive pursuit of crime busting. As the chief federal prosecutor in the region, Christie has been quite adept at rooting out corruption especially in the case of New Jersey political corruption. There he has been quite busy.
Democrats are already afraid of his potential entry into the race. They are already trying to discredit him and calling for him to resign as U.S. Attorney. By law a candidate for public office cannot maintain the position. If he does decide to run he will resign from the justice department but until then his political critics will just have to hope that they are not caught with their hands in the cookie jar because if they are, Chris Christie will add them to his long list of political prosecutions.
If he does run, his campaign will provide me with the information I need to determine if he is the man we are looking for. If he is able to provide a voice for the opposition to the liberal agenda controlling New Jersey. If he can offer a positive alternative path to prosperity and if his agenda is the Main Street agenda that New Jersey needs then I will be at his side, scratching for every vote that we need to steer the state in a better direction.
As a former New Yorker from Brooklyn, I worked on the campaign of another shining prospect that was a prosecutor. His name was Rudy Giuliani and although he was not a conservative, he revived New York City. He brought it out of it’s downward spiral and brought it back to new heights.
In the mean time, I wait. I wait for someone to answer our ad and save us from the oppression of a liberal government that takes much but does little. I wait for my own party to live up to it’s responsibilities and offer the people of New Jersey a viable alternative to a state controlled by liberals and lacking hope.