On the very same day that Chris Christie’s resignation from the U.S. Attorney’s office takes effect, Steve Lonegan announced his own candidacy for the nomination. Speculation has it that Christie will most definitely be running for the nomination and as one of the state’s most recognizable Republican names, many hope that he does run.
So Lonegan’s kicking off his campaign with an official, public, declaration of his candidacy on the same day that Christie resignation from the U.S. Attorney’s office takes effect is no coincidence. In truth, it was a smart move.
News outlets are surely going to be mentioning Christie’s resignation and giving him some earned media. They all know that Christie’s job with the justice department prohibited him from any political activity and making any declarations of his own candidacy, but now that he is out office, the media buzz about the Governor’s race will heat up.
By making his own campaign official on this day, Steve Lonegan assured himself, at least, equal time with Christie on the airwaves. Undoubtedly, if the news does bring up the fact that Christie’s resignation became effective today, then they will surely mention the declared candidacy of his potential rival for the nomination, Steve Lonegan.
In addition to his timely announced campaign kickoff, Steve Lonegan has also launched his campaign web site (which you can link to by clicking on the image from this web site, to the right).
So I give Lonegan credit for playing it right so far. It shows that he is not just interested in the job but that he and his campaign officials know how to run for the job.
And getting the job is going to be a tough. Real tough.
While Steve Lonegan is the favorite of New Jersey conservatives, Chris Christie is the favorite of the Republican establishment in New Jersey and unfortunately for Lonegan the phrase “New Jersey conservatives” is an oxymoron. There are far fewer conservative oriented voters in this state than liberal Republicans. So Lonegan starts off at disadvantage. But it is not one that can’t be overcome.
Before Christie has even announced his own candidacy he has already been caught up in a few verbal missteps. Not long ago, while speaking before a largely Hispanic group, he indicated that illegal immigration was more of an administrative matter than a criminal issue. For that, some called for his resignation from the U.S. Attorney’s office, long before he intended to do so. That remark will certainly be an issue that is raised if Christie runs for governor. It isn’t a silver bullet but that alone gives Steve Lonegan some fighting power that will cause Chris Christie to waste time and money responding to.
But aside from Chris Christie’s own , yet to be known, positions on the issues, Steve Lonegan has a significant record on the issues in his own right. He even has the ability to lay claim to successfully spearheading political causes. He helped to defeat many Corzine initiated measures that would have raised taxes in new Jersey.
On illegal immigration, Lonegan’s voice has been loud and clear. When he was the Mayor of Bogota, he made it known that illegal immigration was not just an administrative issue but a criminal matter that needed to be addressed.
On taxes and spending , it is also clear that Steve Lonegan is not of the center or left of center mold. In fact he stops short of declaring war on taxes and spending and makes it clear that “New Jersey’s government continues to grow beyond the people’s ability to pay.”
According to his recently launched web site, Lonegan “will fight for the forgotten citizens: the hair stylist, the legal assistant, the mechanic, the nurse, the farmer, the supermarket cashier and the factory worker” and “be the champion of the men and women who get up in the morning, go to work, and obey the law.”
I for one like what I am hearing from Lonegan but the devil is in the details and the details are what we need to hear.
If Steve Lonegan can articulate those details in an easily accessible message to the people and if they add up and are believable than he just might have my support.
But until then, I will listen closely. Unlike the race for President, I am not convinced of who is best to carry our banner in November.
In the presidential race, I was among the minority of New Jersey republicans who declared my support for Mitt Romney in September of ‘07. After witnessing the campaign that our ultimate nominee waged, I feel I was right. However in the race for Governor of New Jersey, I have no clear favorite.
Steve Lonegan does seemingly represent my views most closely but I have yet to hear from the others. Chris Christie is a blank slate to me. I, like many others know of him and know of his truly incredible work prosecuting crime but that is all I know and it’s not enough.
Even though his candidacy starts off with advantages that others do not, I refuse to give our party’s nomination to someone who wants to run like a democrat for political expediency. We have had more than enough of that. Tom Kean, Jr.’s candidacy for U.S. Senate against Bob Menendez was an example of that type of candidacy. It was the first time I could not, in good in conscience, vote for the party’s nominee. The positions that he took in that race made it obvious that a vote for him was the same as a vote for Menendez. Neither were acceptable so I wrote in the name of more deserving wished for candidate.
So Christie’s name I.D. and ability to tap into financial resources does not win me over. Where he stands on the issues is more important.
At the same time, Lonegans’s conservative credentials do not automatically make me a supporter of him. Beyond the details of his intended path to prosperity, I need to see that he has the pragmatism needed to instill a sense of confidence in voters. He also needs to demonstrate an ability to be more than a hardliner. Lonegan must show me that he can deliver our message in a manner that unifies people and crosses party lines.
If he cannot do that then all the great things that he might be able to accomplish for us are meaningless.
So I will not declare my support for any one Republican candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. I will wait to see who is most suitable on the issues and who can present those issues in the most suitable way. I will let all the candidates work hard and earn my support before I state which one deserves my support and our nomination.
That means, that Assemblyman Richard Merkt will also have my ear. As the first to really declare his candidacy, Rich Merkt deserves being heard and I welcome his presence on the stage.
I even hope that bio-tech entrepreneur John Crowley throws his hat into the ring. His presence in the contest would energize the primary battle like no other. Between his inspirational story, ingenuity, dedication and personal accomplishments, Crowley would make this a close race that would force all the candidates to be at the top of their game and as a result, the truly best man will win. Such a contest would allow us to produce a nominee that would have the very best chance of not only defeating Corzine but having the coattails to win back some seats in the state legislature.
No matter how the field shapes up though, I know that I will not be putting any effort in to nominating a Democrat-lite Republican. If that’s what New Jersey republicans want then why put up a candidate at all when we could simply vote for another 4 years of the real deal, Jon Corzine.
In the meantime, Steve Lonegan’s declaration today is exciting. He sounds like the change we need. Now he just has to prove it.
There was a dance teacher who talked of a very old dance called the Politician. “All you have to do” she told her class “is take three steps forward, two steps backward, then side-step side-step and turn around.”