Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Garrett Challenged by a Moderate Republican?

With $238,144 sitting in his war chest, Representative Scott Garrett has slightly more than twice as much cash on hand as he did this time last election cycle. My guess is, he's raising money now because he smells a primary challenge. In a post dealing with our Congressional Delegation's Cash on Hand on PoliticsNJ, there was this little nugget of wisdom by PulaskiSkywayConservative:

Garrett could very well be primaried by David Russo or another Bergen Republican if Talarico is gone. He could also lose the general if the top of the ticket isn't Giuliani and the Democrats recruit a good officeholder from Bergen or Passaic.
I have written before about how Garrett and/or Talarico need to be gone in order to save the property taxpayers of Bergen, and I've heard rumblings like this before. The rift between the David Russo and Guy Talarico camps of the BCRO goes back to 2003 when Steve Lonegan led the "Republicans for Conservative Leadership" insurrection via primary against moderate Republicans. Herb Jackson of the Record reported this at the time:

Lonegan believes it's still worth pushing the Republican leadership closer "to President Bush's agenda instead of the opposite direction."
While Russo and fellow Assemblyman Kevin O'Toole absolutely clobbered the opposition, eventually Lonegan backed Guy Talarico's rise to ineptitude and the subsequent near destruction of the BCRO ensued. With Lonegan showing up at O'Toole's fundraiser for State Senate, one has to wonder if Lonegan has realized the error of his ways. We don't even have to speculate about Garrett.

By voting against the 9/11 Commission recommendations, against accountability for the President, and against making student loans more affordable for working families, among other bills, Garrett has continued to attack beliefs held by many voters. Add to that Garrett's unyielding support of President Bush's Iraq policy, including through his silence the mismanagement of reconstruction aid, and you have a bigger issue with unaffiliated voters.

Sprinkle in Garrett's constant co-sponsoring of legislation to completely defund the Department of Education instead of reform it; his efforts last year to do the same with the Department of Transportation (think of life before the new Rt. 4 & 17 interchange); and top it off with a stated desire to do the same to the Department of Energy during our current energy crisis and their being the lead agency against nuclear smuggling. Mix this all up and you've got one train wreck of a voting record and ideological philosophy to defend.

It's only a matter of time before the moderate Republican leaning unaffiliated voters of our District decide Garrett's worn out his welcome. If Garrett keeps voting the way he does, and relegating our District to irrelevance on Capitol Hill, sooner or later he'll face a genuine Democratic challenger of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat variety and lose.

I've been told several times Republicans don't want to give up the seat, so they back Garrett without a strong Republican alternative. Russo finished second to Garrett in the Primary to replace Marge Roukema in 2002, and with several years to review Garrett's record, I'd be very curious to see how Republicans react to a rematch.

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