Right Message, Flawed Messenger

Author: Rory B. Bellows

What Republican could disagree with Steve Lonegan’s message? He wants local control, an end to onerous mandates like Council on Affordable Housing, a flat tax of less than 3%, an end to corporate taxes, less power for state unions and more economic freedom?

The problem is the messenger. Lonegan often devolves into shouting, high pitched denunciations of Chris Christie. The focus of his campaign has often been on keeping liberals like Chris Christie off the ballot and not electing solid conservatives like himself. You never win a campaign when your core message is the other guy sucks. Granted, Lonegan entered this campaign as a decided underdog. However, a no name conservative State Senator like Joe Pennacio got 40% of the vote in a Republican primary for Senate last summer. Libertarian conservative Murray Sabrin received 14%, and that was with a slash and burn kamikaze effort that was the worst run campaign since Pickett’s charge (For full disclosure I proudly voted for Prof. Sabrin’s ideals of limited government and freedom. Combined that is 54% of the primary electorate. There is a sizeable base in the New Jersey Republican primary electorate that is conservatives of some varying degree. A positive, message based campaign could have reached those people and elevated Lonegan to the status of serious contender.

I have often been critical of the state party establishment in this space. And they deserve it. They have put forth bad candidates, run awful campaigns and are 0 fer the last 8 years. The 54% of the primary electorate that identify with conservative candidates are not enough to win a general election. While you don’t have to compromise on your beliefs to reach the other 46%, you don’t have to antagonize. And antagonizing the party establishment means a fractured party in the fall. A fractured party in the fall is the only way the Republican Candidate can lose to a washed up stiff like Jon the Taxer. The public hates him and if he wasn’t paying Carla Katz Arod type money I’m sure she would hate him.

It may be too late but Lonegan needs to keep driving his message and let the chips from the Christie “scandals” fall where they may.

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