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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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THE TOP 10 POLITICAL HAPPENINGS OF 2008

With the new year here, we have the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and to thank the passage of time for resolving some situations. While some happenings in 2008 came and went, other events of 2008 still require time, time that will absorb much of 2009 and even beyond.

So today, before we forge ahead with the rest of this new year, we reflect on the events that shaped politics and the politics that shaped events, by presenting to you the 10 most significant political stories of the year that helped to get us where we are today.

TONY SNOW

TONY SNOW

10. – THE DEATHS OF TIM RUSSERT and TONY SNOW

TIM RUSSERT

TIM RUSSERT

Both of these men loved politics. For a time they were both involved in politics on different sides of the aisle and during  a different time they covered both sides of the aisle in politics . Tony Snow started in print and broadcast journalism delivering political news and commentary and ended his career in politics as the Press Secretary for President Bush. Tim Russert began in politics working for a political legend, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and ended covering politics on NBC. As host of Meet The Press, Tim became a part of every American household and despite his personal left leaning tendencies Tim Russert was respected for probing questions that were leveled at liberals and conservatives alike. Tony Snow was also a partisan. For decades he was a favorite in conservative circles, yet when delivering a news story people of every party carefully listened to the insightful delivery of facts that he presented. His last major endeavor was one that helped provide the White House with the ability to properly convey the right messages. Tony served as Press Secretary for 17 months. Probably the most understandable 17 months of the Presidents two terms in office. Tim Russert died after suffering a massive heart attack on Jun 13th at the age of 58 and Tony Snow died after battling colon cancer on July 12th at the age of 53. In life they shaped politics and political opinion. In death, they left us a legacy of lessons and examples to follow.

 

 

FORMER NY GOVERNOR ELLIOT SPITZER

FORMER NY GOVERNOR ELLIOT SPITZER

9 . – IS THAT CAMPAIGN MONEY IN YOUR POCKET OR ARE YOU JUST GLAD TO SEE ME?

 

The Empire State helped to set a tone for 2008 when early in the year, New York’s Governor, Elliot Spitzer got caught up in scandal. After serving only 14 months in office the rising Democrat star found himself standing next to his wife announcing his resignation. Suspicious transfers of money in and out of Spitzer’s bank account led federal investigators to believe that he might be taking bribes. However their probe discovered that for over several years Spitzer wasn’t taking bribes, he was paying out at least $80,000 for prostitutes. The period covered his tenure as New York’s Attorney General as well as his brief time as Governor. The happiest people of all in this episode were David Paterson and New Jersey. As Spitzer’s Lieutenant Governor, Paterson, became New York’s first African American Governor, and the nation’s first legally blind one. New Jersey was just happy to know that they were no longer the only state in the region to lose a governor because of sexual scandals and illegal conduct.

 

 

8. – WEEKEND AT KIM’S

NOT WANTED but is he dead or alive?

NOT WANTED but is he dead or alive?

 

Around August rumors began to circulate that North Korea’s obscure and, to put it kindly, eccentric leader, Kim Jong-Il, was dead. Since then no reputable sources have either seen him or heard from him. Not that that is unusual, few people have ever heard or seen Kim Jong-Il, but what is unusual are recent decisions that Kim Jong-Il supposedly made to eliminate efforts to develop nuclear power. Did Kim make that decision? Is North Korea really abandoning nuclear ambitions? Or is North Korea propping up Kim Jong-Il, like a bad, out of sync, Korean version of “Weekend At Bernie’s” while a different, unknown, brain dead ruler is pulling the strings and, at the same time, trying to pull the wool over our eyes? All jokes aside, the sensitivity of the situation is a dire one. Chaos on the Korean Peninsula could create a ripple effect that no one can afford. Dramatic events could alter sensitive relations with South Korea and negotiations with the United States. All of which could result in tensions throughout the world including those involving hard feelings between North Korea and Japan. And let us not forget North Korea’s greatest ally, China. With their booming economy, the Chinese are ambitious. Knowing who is in charge of things could be helpful in 2009.

 

 

BID WELL TO FIDEL?

BID WELL TO FIDEL?

7. – BID WELL FIDEL?

 

In 1959 Cuba took on the face of Fidel Castro. Just 90 miles off of our shores, Cuban communism and Castro were too close for comfort. As much as we didn’t like it, invasions, coups and even assassination attempts did not eliminate Castro’s hold on power. However, time did reduce Castro’s influence. As time changed most of the world, Castro and Cuba didn’t but the logistics which helped to make him a thorn in our side did change. The, once feared communist Soviet-Cuban relationship lost it’s potency as the Soviet Union lost it’s hammer and sickle. As time went by, our concerns with Cuba focused more on human rights for Cubans than defense from Cuba. So it was still welcome news when, in February, we discovered that an ailing Fidel Castro was resigning from office. Not that it mattered much. Before stepping down, Fidel told the Cuban Communist Party that they were too elect his brother Raul to be the new Commander in Chief. The event did not change things very much but after almost 50 years in power, and events such as the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Elian Gonzales and other disconcerting situations, as minor as the effects of this change may be, Fidel’s painstakingly slow departure from the world stage is welcomed and ranks as the seventh most dramatic political occurrence of 2008.

 

 ant1georgis1a2

6. – THE GEOGIAN-RUSSIAN WAR

 

It was not a battle that reshaped Europe again but the surprising developments that caused the Russian Army to invade a neighboring, breakaway Republic with internationally recognized sovereignty, gave us all a glimpse of reality. It may not be the Soviet Union anymore but a bear by any other name is still a bear and the vulnerabilities of newly formed and reformed European nations and those with relatively new freedoms still offer some new Russian leaders the same old reasons for wanting control. The incident helped to demonstrate that freedom in parts of Europe is still a fragile concept.

 

 

ROD "How much do 'ya want" BLAGOJEVICH

ROD "How much do 'ya want" BLAGOJEVICH

5. – THE EBAY APPOINTMENT

 

2008 ended with a story that will carry well into the first months of 2009. As President-Elect Obama vacated his seat in the U.S. Senate, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich began a private auction process to determine who will fill the vacancy. As investigators, under the direction of federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, investigated Blagojevich for numerous improprieties, they discovered that he was basing his appointment to the senate seat on who could give him the most for it. Blago wanted either a “cushy union” job, a high paying cabinet position or at the very least an enormous financial campaign contribution. After being arrested the Illinois state legislature began impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich and he began digging in his heals refusing to resign. The events have the potential for drawing in some big name co-conspirators and participants. From Rep. Jesse Jackson, jr. to President -Elect Obama’s incoming Chief of Staff, Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuelle, many reputations may yet be questioned in this scandal. And to make things even more interesting, Blagojevich took the opportunity to raise the stakes and named Roland Burris, a long time, old line, liberal Chicago Democrat party machine hack to replace Barack Obama. Not at all concerned with peoples faith in government, or the integrity of the process, Burriss accepted the tainted appointment and in doing so, puts the United States and it’s Democrat leader, Harry Reid in the position of denying to seat someone that would be the only African American in the United States Senate. So coming in as the fifth top political occurrence in 2008 is the story that will keep on bleeding and keep us reading…..the process to replace a Barack Obama in the senate.

 

 

4. – BRINGING OUTSIDERS IN

GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN

GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN

 

One of the most important political decisions made in 2008 was John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President on the Republican ticket. It was a controversial choice for some and one of the only right decisions made in the opinions of others. No matter how you see it, it remains one of the most spoken about political stories of the year. Beyond the newsworthiness are the implications. For many it was a sign of the fact that government needs thinking that is as far removed from the Washington D.C. mentality as Alaska is from Washington D.C itself. Many Americans are tired of Washington politics and want common sense as opposed to the one hand washes the other, old boys bureaucracy that we perceive as screwing us more than helping us. Sarah Palin embodied, and still does embody, that thinking. She is a political outsider who became a Governor by opposing the political class while representing the working class. Without abandoning conservative Republican principles, Sarah Palin fought against corrupt Republican and liberal politicians. Although picking Sarah Palin for Vice President may have been the right decision for John McCain, trying to restrict and control her wasn’t. By trying to script Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign lost out on the greatest advantageous quality Palin brought to the ticket…….her anti-establishment, outsider qualities. As McCain lost the election for President, Sarh Palin won exposure. Exposure that has made her a person who conservatives look forward to advancing the cause and for Americans to have to consider for national leadership in the future. So at number four in 2008 is the selection of Sarah Palin for Vice President. Thank you senator McCain!

 

 

ant1oil23. – “OILS WELL” IN THE ECONOMY?

 

The price of oil ranks third on our list of top stories. As prices for a barrel of oil soared to heights in excess of 150 dollars a barrel , gas prices flew up to over 4 dollars a gallon and the ripple effects raise the cost of everything from milk, eggs and bread to lumber, air fares, and life in general. The high cost of energy generated heated debates over domestic oil drilling, and pushed issues like immigration and terrorism off of the front burners in the race for President. Based upon the duration of the immediate negative effects of the price of oil combined with its ripple effects on the economy, its control of the political agenda and the long term policy initiatives that it created, oil prices is number 3 in ‘08. It is also likely to become a top story again, at least around August of ‘09, when the now delightfully low prices we see rise back up.

 

 

2. – THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA

 

Putting all political opinion aside, Barack Obama ran a long hard campaign, that Republican strategists are dissecting in order to reproduce in elections of their own. The Obama campaign not only effectively tapped into voter dissatisfaction, they organized it and organized it well. Their utilization of the internet was exemplary and their ability to win favor through eloquence and style over substance and fact was done to political perfection. Despite some pitfalls such as Bill Ayers, ACORN, Rev. Wright, admitting a desire akin to socialism by stating that he wanted to spread the wealth, Barack Obama won big. To do so his campaign raised historic amounts of money and more than just raising that money, they spent it right and put it to good use. A use that mobilized the forces well enough to produce his substantial victory. The election of President-Elect Barack Obama comes in second not only because of how he won but because he did win. His victory marked the election of America’s first African American President. Like any other first, it is notable and in this case it is profoundly notable. It demonstrates an undeniable ability for our nation to overcome racial differences and the evidence of decency overcoming prejudice is promising. The effects of President-Elect Obama’s leadership are yet to be seen but the lessons learned and points made by his election are unquestionable.

 

 

ant1bailout21 . – BAIL OUT MANIA

 

POLITICS 24/7 considers the 700 billion dollar bailout that the federal government approved to be the most profound and important story of 2009. Not only was the suggested need for this bailout indicative of our wrong ways of the past, it signaled a continuation of wrong ways in the future. Our promotion of spending as the answer to all of our problems has created generations ands a government that spend beyond our means. The 700 billion dollar bailout meant to solve our problems didn’t solve our anything, it just provided a quick fix. It did however, create more problems. It has called upon more people and more industries to put their own hands out. The bailout set in motion a sense of government control that has taken freedom, with all of it’s risks and promises, out of the free market and it has helped to move America closer to the socialism that we have fought against in the past. Many major events come and go in politics. What we once saw as earth shattering developments often become something that we later laugh about but we fear that bailout trend established in 2008 is no laughing matter for any time.

 

2008 was an intense year. There were many events and some of the most dramatic ones did not involve politics. Human nature played a role in all of them though and hopefully our better instincts will drive the events and politics of 2009.

With that in mind we wish everyone a happy new year and hope that our better instincts help to make each and every day better than the last.

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