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A BUMP IN LONEGANS ROAD TO VICTORY?: An Interview With Steve Lonegan-Part III

antlonegan3Bookmark and Share   On the issues, Steve Lonegan has proven himself to be well versed , prepared and experienced. As a former mayor he understands the ramifications of the legislation and mandates that come out of Trenton. In the previous two parts of our interview, Steve Lonegan didn’t just argue for a conservative approach to state government and governance, he demonstrated the how’s and whys of wrong minded liberal leadership. At the same time he presented concrete, conservative solutions to the problems that liberal leadership have presented us with today.

In this final part of our interview, I asked Mayor Lonegan about his campaign.

His campaign raised a few heads when late last year, Steve Lonegan stated that he would accept public matching funds in his race. Some saw that move as hypocritical, others, like Lonegan simply see at is playing by the rules of the game that we have to deal with.

Of course Jon Corzine won’t have to play by those rules. He has the luxury of reaching into his own wallet and financing his campaign on his own. After all, that is how he won his last two statewide campaigns. He bought both his seat in the United States Senate and his office in Trenton. And oddly enough, the so-called “rich” Republicans running for Governor in New Jersey, do not have the independent wealth of a limousine liberal like Corzine, so, by accepting matching funds, they are assuring themselves of having at least enough money to let people know that they are running against Corzine.

So far, Lonegan has raised over half a million dollars. That amount puts him significantly ahead in the field of current and potential candidates. As for those who may have had any doubt about how serious a run for the nomination Lonegan would make, the half a million he raised and the half a million that he will receive in matching funds makes for a million reasons to take his candidacy seriously. And that is just so far. More money is coming.

When asked if expects to be able to raise enough money to bring his name ID up to the level of Chris Christie, his major rival for the nomination at this point, Lonegan feels that he will raise an amount of money comparable, if not even, to Chris Christie.

As for raising enough money to be competitive with Jon Corzine if Lonegan is our Republican nominee for Governor, Lonegan states “I don’t need to outspend Jon Corzine to win”. “We need to have enough money to get our message out” he added.antlonegan4

Lonegan believes that Corzine has to raise and spend tons of money, maybe even an historic level of campaign spending all to simply defend his record,. Lonegan made it clear that Corzine has to explain why he created “the highest taxes in the country and an economic decline which has our friends and neighbors leaving the state”.

Lonegans punctuates the spending question in this campaign by adding “I think Corzine should spend $75million  or $100 million dollars. I think that could be the best economic stimulus package New Jersey could see”.

That statement could be funny if it were true, but the state of New Jersey has no major media market of its own and so much of the campaign dollars spent in the race for Governor of Jersey will be split between the New York media market in North Jersey and the Philly media market in the south. So even a boondoggled bundle of bucks in our state’s own election won’t benefit New Jersey that much.

  • “If the primary ends up being a hard hitting, bloody battle, well so be it.  Let’s get ready for the general election”     -Steve Lonegan, 1/21?09-POLITICS 24/7 Interview

That aside, with all things being equal, I asked Lonegan how he would describe himself and his political ideology to me, a self-proclaimed, “bleeding heart, Jack Kemp, conservative who is a heavily armed dove“. To which Lonegan replied that he is  a “principled conservative who believes in free-market principles and values of limited government and lower taxes who has been elected three times in a small town that is 2 to 1 Democrats to Republicans”.

But with the Republican field for Governor already comprised of another self avowed Conservative in Assemblyman Rick Merkt and will soon be having another in Mayor Brian Levine of Franklin Township, I asked Lonegan how he would differentiate himself. To that he replied, “I raised half a million dollars”.

Aside from that, the Mayor did admit that he and Rick Merkt “agree on a lot” and that he is “great and has a great record and is a terrific guy”.

  • Levine “has positioned himself as a pro COAH and Abbott funding moderate, so that will be interesting”                            -Steve Lonegan, 1/21?09-POLITICS 24/7 Interview

As for Brian Levine, Steve Lonegan has to muster up the desire to speak nearly half as nicely.

After saying that Brian Levine is a nice fellow, he throws in the fact that Levine is a small town mayor, and that,is something Lonegan likes. But that is about as far as the liking goes. Once those platitudes were over Lonegan stated “that Levine has positioned himself as a pro COAH and Abbott funding moderate, so that will be interesting”

With that out of the way, the Mayor agreed with me on the fact that Republicans need to be unified in November and so I asked him he could promise to keep the campaign civil and avoid any mocking tones and obey Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment which dictated that “thou shall not speak ill of fellow Republicans”. 

That so called commandment was first uttered by Reagan during his 1966 primary for the Republican nomination for Governor of California.

As for employing that phrase here in the 2009 Republican primary for Governor of New Jersey, Lonegan stated “Oh, absolutely. There is no need for personal attacks or mocking tones, however we will be hard hitting on the issues and the record”.

He added, “if you can’t make your way through a good, hard hitting, primary, how do you expect to take on Jon Corzine’s millions of dollars?”. So I will put my record up against anyone and I will be looking very carefully at Mr. Christie’s record and his positions on the issues and we will define the differences. If that ends up being a hard hitting, bloody primary, well so be it. Let’s get ready for the general election”.

So it looks like the stage is set for a few battles. One will be for the hearts of the conservative wing of the party. That battle may include Chris Christie if he gets off of the ideological fence but it will certainly include Merkt and Levine against Lonegan.

The other battle will be for the minds of all Republicans. That battle will not only include the emotionally charged ideological arguments but the electability argument as well.

It is on that argument that Steve Lonegan may have his greatest challenge and in that challenge he may not be making things any easier for himself.

Some may think the electability question may be raised by what a few see as Lonegan’s brashness. But what they may see as brash others see as open and honest.

For me the potential drawback to Lonegan’s success here, lies not so much in Lonegan himself as it does in his choice of staff.

Until now, one issue in particular, has not come up in the shaping primary race but I am afraid it might.  That is the selection of Steve Lonegan’s campaign manager, Kevin Collins.

The selection of Kevin Collins as his campaign manager could create a problem.

The source of the problem dates back to an incident in 2007.

antmailer2Collins designed a campaign mail piece in a Republican state senate primary against State Senator Kevin O’Toole.

Senator O’Toole is of Korean descent. And the piece referred to his Korean ancestry by claiming that O’Toole exploited his heritage by claimimng to be a minority and asking for special rights when his senate district lines were being redrawn during the redistricting process. The Collins campaign mailer described Kevin O’Toole as “The Republican Al Sharpton” for taking advantage of minority rights protections.  It also included a photo comparisson of the two.

The mailer was a low point for Republicans. It was typical race baiting and should not have ever been considered by Collins or the candidate on whose behalf the mailer was sent out. Worse than the mailer were some of Kevin Collins’ replies to accusations over the mailer. At one point Collins said:

“We could have altered the photo. We did not. We could have made a more jaundiced look to his skin. We did not.”

The judgment was so bad that Collins was even officially rebuked by all thirty of the Republican assembly members serving at the time.

In a unanimously signed  letter, the 30 assembly Republicans wrote “Mr. Collins has crossed a line and we believe it would no longer be appropriate for him to do work on behalf of any candidate running as a Republican in this state”.

When asked about the incident Steve Lonegan replied “ Since then, even Kevin O’Toole has hired Kevin Collins

A call to Senator O’Toole’s office to confirm that statement was not responded to but Lonegan went on to say “I don’t think the Republicans should have the democrats telling us us how to run our own campaigns”.

Problem is, it is not Democrats who joined together in denouncing the Collins mailer and requesting that Collins have no part in Republican campaigns in New Jersey. It is fellow Republicans who have decided that.

A call to Assembly Republican Minority Leader Alex DeCroce about this matter also went unanswered so we have no idea where assembly Republicans stand on their banning of Collins but others are not so quiet about the Lonegan hiring.

Jonathon Kim, President of the Korean Association of New Jersey called Lonean’s hiring of Kevin Collins “disturbing”and he thinks the Mayor might be “shooting himself in the foot” by hiring Kevin Collins.

To this Lonegan simply replied “well, he’s wrong”

For his part Steve Lonegan says “Kevin Collins is an effective individual, knows politics and has outstanding character and integrity”. and that he “will not have someone on his/my campaign personally attacked by Democrats”.

But it may not even get to the point where Democrats have the chance to do the attacking.

Lonegan first has to get through fellow Republicans and one cannot help but wonder if this issue will be brought up among his rivals or any of  the Republicans who, back in 2007, declared Kevin Collins persona non grata in New Jersey.

Personally I have no hard feelings either way. The O’Toole mailer does seem to be a bit over the line but I am not sure it is a demonstration of politics at its worst. However my real concern is the effects of Lonegans’s decision to hire Collins during the general election.

If this incident is not addressed and gone by then, what if Steve Lonegan does become the Republican standard bearer? Do we want our conservative candidate for Governor being attacked and labeled as insensitive to minorities or of running a campaign prone to racial divisiveness?

Come November, we will need every vote we can get to win. Such a victory will need to tap into almost every demographic we have, including the significant Korean population of the state, a population which is quite Republican oriented.

So I do hope that this issue gets addressed sooner rather than later and I do also hope it does not damage the chances of Lonegan’s promising campaign.

Kevin Collins is a decent man and he has done some good work including the work of challenges that some may have turned away from.

When Hillary Clinton was running for relection in New York, few came forward to challenge her and fewer volounteered time and money to campaign against her but not Kevin Collins. He managed the campaign of Hillary Clinton’s opponenet, John Spencer.

The same holds true of New York’s Chuck Schumer whose most recent opponent, Howard Mills was also managed by Kevin Collins.

Collins also managed past efforts for some candidates which I hold in high esteem. One of them is former GOP Assembly Republican Majority Leader Paul DeGaetano (in fact, he is one person I wish was running for the job of Governor this time around).

So Collins has paid his dues and fought the hard fights and along the way, everyone is entitled to a mistake or two. But this is politics and whether we like it or not, everything is on the table, including Collins mistake.

Hopefully it is not an issue that will blow up. Hopefully the past actions of Assembly Republicans regarding Collins and Lonegan’s present actions of hiring Collins as his campaign manager can somehow be balanced.

It is hard to quantify Lonegan’s decision in bringing Collins onboard the campaign. Some could say it is a courageous call on Lonegan’s part. Others may say it was a stupid decision that opens Lonegan up to attacks that can further advance liberal accusations that Republicans are out of touch with and insensitive to racial concerns.

Either way, on both the issues and his approach to the issues, Steve Lonegan’s campaign promises to be the stuff that political drama’s are made of and he will be the one candidate in this election who is certain to grab headlines.

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CORRECTION:  Rick Shaftan, a strategists and aide in the Lonegan for Governor campaign,  alerted us of an inaccuracy in the above post.  In it we attributed the quotation known as Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment to Ronald Reagan himself.  Mr. Shaftan made it known that the quote was first used by Gaylord Parkinson who was the California Republican State Chairman who used it in response to attacks on Reagan during his primary for the california gubernatorial nomination.

Mr. Shaftan pointed out “The Eleventh Commandment is quoted most of the time by liberals who would never quote anything Reagan said. It’s ironic that when they quote it, they are not quoting Reagan”.

We thank Mr. Shaftan for his historical accuracy and hope he was not calling us at POLITICS 24/7 liberal.

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TWIN PEEPS

Maybe there is something to the pseudoscience of face reading! When I first looked at corrupt Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich‘s face (I like to refer to him as Gov. Doucheblag), the dude who was charged with attempting to sell President-elect Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder (!!), I immediately thought, OMG, he looks just like Lyle Menendez! All you true-crime aficionados out there know who I’m talking about: Lyle and his brother Erik were charged with murdering their parents and then going on a shopping spree with their credit cards in Beverly Hills in the ’90s. Good times . . .

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Be Sure To Sign The Petition To

REPEAL THE CONGRESSIONAL PAY HIKE

Sign the Online Petition – Repeal The Automatic Pay Raise That Congress Is Receiving

Pass The Link On To Family, Friends and Co-workers

http://www.gopetition.com/online/24301.html  

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Results for the latest POLITICS 24/7 poll are in!

As for who you want to see be the next Chairman of the Republican National Committee

the results are as follows:

40%  –  KEN BLACWELL

20%  –  SAUL ANUZIS

20%  –  MICHAEL STEELE

  7%  –  KATON DAWSON

 7%  –  CHIP SALTSMAN

 7%  –  Other 

 0%  –  MIKE DUNCAN 

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TAXPAYERS TO CONGRESS “DON’T EVEN CONSIDER ACCEPTING A RAISE!”

The new year will give us a new President and a newly elected Congress.  Only 61 individuals are truly newly elected to it though.  The remaining 474 are simply returning to continue their work (two are moving from the house to the senate).  But in this session, all of them are expected to bring about that much “touted change” that many of them promised along with President-Elect Obama.

How much “change” they will actually bring and what kind of change they will be responsible for has yet to be seen but early on, there exists one change that they will effect right away.

While the nation and the world have entered into economic troubles, the 535 collective members of the House of Representatives and Senate will have the opportunity to see their salaries change with an increased of as much as $4,700 a year.

The pay raise is automatic and turns out to be about a 2.8% increase and although it may not sound like much, when one considers the circumstances of the times that we are in, accepting such pay raise would be criminal.

I say criminal because there do not exist many American institutions that can determine their own salary at their own whim. And there are even fewer institutions that would dare to accept more money when they have less money to spend. 

On top of that, given the fact that elected federal office holders already make a touch more than $169,000, most Americans feel that that is quite suitable. In fact many Americans might consider it to be a great deal more than suitable. Seeing as how Congress currently has an approval rating of 18.4% and a disapproval rating of 73.4%, I would say that most Americans think that $170,000 for the bad job they are doing is totally inappropriate and way too much.

So why should they get almost $5,000. More for their poor approval?

Even more disturbing,  how can they look voters in the eye and claim to understand that the economic climate is rough but that it is necessary for them to shoulder additional costs that Congress had a hand in creating in the first place.

While Congress approves bailing out almost every faction of the private sector that requests help, how can they also accept more money too? Is that the type of change that the elections of ’08 meant,……… more spending and higher Congressional salaries?

The amount of money we are talking about in regards to the pending pay raise may be minuscule when compared to a 7 or 8 hundred billion dollar bailout but it is still more money being spent. It is still more money being paid by taxpayers and it is still more money than each member of Congress requires. But more than that , accepting a pay raise during the time we are in is a horrific symbolic gesture that essentially tells the American taxpayer “screw you, were in charge and we are going to do what we want, when we want and how we want”. Never mind the out of work salesman who has no conglomerate that can’t slip congressmen or senators a hefty campaign donation and then request federal assistance for himself. Never mind the additional taxes that Democrats will be requesting taxpayers to pay or the out of work taxpayer who can’t afford to pay their property taxes this year.

By accepting a pay raise, Congress will be making it clear that they have absolutely no concern for the people whose money they spend.

With Democrats in total control of government, if the 2.8% pay raise goes through, than their hold on power will be short lived. If Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi do not put a stop to increasing their salaries than folks, they are not just greedy, they are downright stupid and should not be in office in the first place.

Having control of government makes Democrats responsible for what happens in government.  It makes them totally responsible. Accepting a pay raise at a time like this is something that they will have to be held accountable for and they will.

But there is still a chance for them to save face. If they act responsibly and derail any efforts to increase their salaries, they can spare themselves the blame and avoid the certain repercussions of their greed and irresponsibility.

That is one reason why President-Elect Obama should publicly urge the House of Representatives and the Senate to show the American people that they have their priorities in order and that they are aware of the tough times we may be in and demand that they forgo any raise and repeal the 2.8% increase that they will receive.

It is also why POLITICS 24/7 has issued a national petition.

It is a “Declaration of Rejection of a Congressional Pay Raise

As a free society, we cannot simply wait for our representatives to act. We must make our desires known before they act.

In the case of irresponsible government action we cannot wait for irresponsibility to be enacted, we must avoid it from happening . So we have initiated a petition to Congress. It is a petition that calls upon them to reject any increases in theirsalaries, staffs and office budgets, as well as personal expense limits, and currently allocated per diem expenses. If such a vote or votes are passed at any point during the sessions between January 2009 and January 2011 we demand that a new vote repealing such increases be brought to the floor of both the House of Representatives and the Senate”.

Simply click here for the “DECLARATION of REJECTION of CONGRESSIONAL PAY RAISE” Online petition and make it clear that will tolerate spending more on Congress than they are worth and that you certainly do not intend to tolerate their greed.

After signing it you must still do two things.  Pass this petition on to others.  Just cut and past the following link into an email

http://www.gopetition.com/online/24301.html

Then send it to friends, family and business associates and urge them to do the same. 

Once you’ve done that, the second thing you must do is contact the two U.S. Senators representing you in your state and your congressman.  Do so either by phone, snail mail or email.  No matter how you want to do it, just do it!

If you are really ticked off over this potential pay raise, write your local newspapers too.   Send letters to the editors voicing your disapproval of any hint of raising congressional salaries at a time like this.

BE SURE TO SIGN THE PETITION

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9 SYMPTOMS OF CONSERVAPHOBIA

conservaphobia: noun. The fear of the American conservative political movement, often based on unfounded   stereotypes and distortions.

You might be conservaphobic if:

  • You’ve never really listened to Rush Limbaugh because you’re already sure that you disagree with practically everything he’s ever said.
  • You refer to liberal Catholics, Protestants and Jews as “people of faith” but conservative Catholics, Protestants and Jews as the “religious right” or “radical religious right”. (Maybe you have a thing for alliteration too.)
  • You think all white Republicans are racists and all black Republicans are sellouts.
  • You are a champion of first amendment rights except in public school classrooms and in front of abortion clinics.
  • You’re glad you’re not a Republican because after all, they want to starve school children and senior citizens.
  • You actually think that “liberal” and “progressive” are synonymous.
  • In your opinion, a government donation to the poor is somehow more effective than yours would be.
  • You only listen to and respect the views of “open-minded” people who think like you do.
  • You blame society’s problems on “religious fanatics” and “corporate greed”, never on the irresponsible behavior of individuals.

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