Recently, State Senator Sean Kean (R-Monmouth) and Assembly members Mary Pat Angelini (R-Ocean) and Dave Rible (R-Wall) endorsed Chris Christie for the Republican nomination for Governor.
I normally find myself in agreement with those lawmakers, usually.
However in this case I do not approve of their premature endorsement of a candidate who not only hasn’t articulated his positions on the issues facing the state but is not even a declared candidate for the nomination.
New Jersey Republican leaders seem to be yearning for a savior. So much so that I believe they are willing to throw out the baby with the bath water.
In their intense desire to win an election they seem to be placing little importance on the principles that we need a Governor to bring to Trenton along with their victory. On top of that thinking being wrong based upon its shallowness, it also ignores a basic truth. It ignores the fact that our party should not be built around any one individual. It should be built around our principles and the ideas that Republixcans bring to the table. Rather than focus on one person to lead us to victory, Republican legislators should be providing Trenton with the ideas that could win the day for us. Without those ideas, there is no need to win. So I suggest that Republican elected officials focus on that job. Focus on bringing change through the legislative solutions they propose. I want them to do their job and let the candidates running for governor do their job.
Once the candidates have done so, or at the very, least begun to do so, then come out and endorse one of them. Don’t just endorse someone for political expediency. Have some sincerity in purpose. Endorse someone for their ideas, their thinking, the direction they propose to take us. Not for their name.
I want to know these things before I approve or reject his candidacy. I want to know where he stands on issues before we say….”here take our nomination, take all that we believe and do as you wish with it to become Governor”.
With Republican elected officials simply endorsing Christie before he has stated a position on any issues or even become a candidate, they are not helping matters. They are simply saying, “we don’t know what you stand for but we need you”. That type of courtship does not help us build a strong ticket for Governor in November. In fact it could lead to trouble.
Years ago when New York was my political arena, before becoming the Republican nominee in his second attempt to become Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani told me that losing against Dave Dinkins the first time around, taught him a lot.
You see, the first time he ran, Rudy expected Republicans allover the nation, to roll over and roll out the red carpet for his candidacy. At the time he felt that Republicans needed him more than he needed Republicans. That wasn’t exactly the case.
While waiting for Republicans throughout the city to come and kiss Rudy’s ring, another Republican courted them for their support. With money and conservative opinions, Ronald Lauder garnered enough support to wage a strong primary battle against Rudy. It was a battle that probably caused Rudy to lose the election by one percentage point
Instead of making his rounds and earning support from the party whose nomination he wanted, Rudy felt that it was incumbent upon them to come to him.
Not all of them did.
Many felt at home with the more conservative candidate who respected them enough to ask for their support, not expect their support.
Had Rudy maintained a little humility and earned the support of all Republicans, he may have avoided the bloody and expensive primary battle that he found himself in and by avoiding that battle he might have won the war and been elected mayor four years earlier than he was. In fact he probably would have been able to serve three terms instead of the two he was limited to by the term limits which voters adopted in the same election that finally saw Rudy win City Hall.
Four years after losing the 1989 mayoral race, Rudy admitted that the way he conducted himself, the first time, was inappropriate. He told me and a couple of county chairmen that he learned his lesson and that he knew he needed every Republican as much, if not more than they needed him.
With that lesson learned, Rudy went on to win the Republican nomination for Mayor with ease and ultimately became one of the greatest mayors New York has ever known.
Now, here we are in New Jersey and another famed prosecutor is on the verge of saving Republicans from defeat.
If Chris Christie believes like Rudy did in 1989, Christie could find himself in the same position as Rudy.
With some Republican elected officials simply endorsing Christie before he has stated a position on any issues or even become a candidate yet, they are not helping matters. They are actually saying, “we don’t know what you stand for but we need you”. That type of courtship does not help us build a strong ticket for Governor in November. It simply helps to create an arrogant mentality in Christie that allows him to believe that we owe him the nomination and that the job of Governor is his merely because he may want it..
Truth is, we owe nothing to Chris Christie other than our thanks for his undeniably successful tenure as New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney for the past seven years.
So stop wooing Chris Christie. Let Chris Christie start wooing us, the voters. Let Chris Christie join the other official candidates and earn our support.
The most recent example of Republican leaders hastily rushing to endorse someone, long before the primary election for a Republican nomination took place, was at the end of last year, when hundreds of Republicans from county chairmen, mayors, freeholders, councilmembers and state legislators rushed to endorse Rudy Giuliani for President.
We all know how successful that was.
So stop trying to part the sea for Chris Christie. We need to let him articulate his positions on the issues and demonstrate why he would be a better Governor than Richard Merkt, Steve Lonegan, Brian Levine or any other potential nominee.
A good start for Christie would be to stop stalling. The longer he waits to make a decision, the more suspect people become. They begin to wonder, does he want the job bad enough? Is there some closeted skeleton that is making him apprehensive about running?
Whatever the answer, Christie needs to make it official, one way or the other.
Until then, I suggest that everyone stop hoping that Chris Christie can walk on water. Stop making him believe that he is the best thing since sliced bread merely because he is Chris Christie. Help us win back New Jersey so that we can turn things around. Help strengthen our ticket in November by making Chris Christie put his very best foot forward and earn the nomination that he may want.
We are not helping ourselves by rolling out a red carpet for Chris Christie while waving a white flag of surrender for what ,we as Republicans, stand for.
We need to let Christie articulate his positions on the issues and demonstrate why he would be a better Governor than Richard Merkt, Steve Lonegan, Brian Levine or any other potential nominee. We need to make sure that Chris Christie represents the Republican ideology and approach to government that we stand for.
So before Republicans officials hand over our mantle to someone, let them prove themselves to be worthy of holding it. Let the candidates campaign for the nomination so that the right ideas may help win day rather than just some empty suit with a well known name.