Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My 200th Post: What's a Guy to Do?

***UPDATED*** See below.

Considering I'm a one man band, I'm pretty pleased to put up my 200th post in less than a year. It's been fun, and I want to thank those of you who stop by.

If the folks over at PoliticsNJ are right, even though Republicans are starting to complain about Representative Scott Garrett, he isn't going anywhere. It seems I'll have him to write about for a while. However, having Garrett stay in office so I can perpetuate this blog is not a goal. I'd still write no matter who was in office, because as a District we have a right to know what our Representative is really doing down in Washington on our behalf.

The biggest issue with Garrett is that he's so ineffective. An example is how Garrett cites that 120,000 taxpayers in our Fifth District (19% of the population) will be subject to the AMT if it's not changed; yet as Herb Jackson recently pointed out in the Record, Garrett wasn't able to get AMT reform bills passed while Republicans were in the majority. How exactly can taxpayers in our District expect him to get anything done while he's in the minority?

Garrett's ineffectiveness extends to a number of critical issues, from health care reform to energy policy. Garrett effectively removes our District from a seat at the table; we will have no meaningful say in what happens, yet inevitably our District will foot a large part of the bill.

This all has to do with the fact that it's impossible for someone philosophically opposed to government governing to play a role in developing effective government. It's basically like asking me to manage the Atlanta Braves against the Mets, the Braves would likely lose every game.

Garrett makes no apologies for his belief the Departments of Education, Energy and Transportation should be eliminated, when some of our biggest current challenges as a NATION fall into these areas. Major reforms are needed, without a doubt, but simply throwing your hands in the air in the face of sagging test scores, an energy crisis, and collapsing bridges is the slacker's way out. Doctor's don't cut off your arm when you break your wrist, but that's Garrett's solution to everything.

A fiscal conservative Garrett is not; fiscal conservatives accept some role of government and look to make it efficient in order to reduce costs and taxes over the long term. A clear example of Garrett's lack of fiscal conservatism is his stance against PAYGO, which was implemented by Republicans in the 1990's to hold spending down and pay down the deficit. It was working before the tax-cut and spend Republicans supplanted the fiscal conservative Republicans.

Garrett also constantly votes to to defend taxpayer funded corporate profit margin guarantees for those serving government contracts, regardless of performance. This flies in the face of getting the most from the taxpayer dollar, and it's downright anti-competitive.

Those who go after Garrett for his views, which often make Pat Buchanan look like a flaming haired liberal, miss the point. As out of the mainstream as Garrett's views are, they make him so ineffective he can't get any of them implemented anyway. Garrett's about as useful to our District as ice cubes are to the Eskimos whose education funding he voted to cut.

Even though I never declared as a Republican, I worked for them for a number of years during college, and the national party has radically departed from the party I knew growing up. My belief in paying down the deficit and making sure that the government's involvement in an individual's life ended at their front doorstep has never changed. In the 1990's, that was Northeast Republican mantra.

Now, thanks to Garrett and those like him, the Republican party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Gov. Tom Kean, and Marge Roukema is seen by many of my fellow unaffiliateds as the fear-mongering, bigoted, anti-Constitution, corporate profit padding party that's mortgaged future generations to score some political points.

With PoliticsNJ reporting Garrett is unlikely to get a Republican primary challenger, I find it disappointing that Republicans in our District are okay with the image Garrett portrays for them. With Garrett going unopposed by a fellow Republican, it will largely be up to the Democrats to mount a challenge.

There are two candidates running for the nomination, each bringing something different to the table, but they both face the same challenges. While FEC reports aren't available just yet for Rabbi Dennis Shulman, Garrett has $332,116 in cash on hand compared to Camille Abate's $36,556. This is a daunting deficit for any campaign. What's more daunting is the vote deficit in the Western part of the District that any Democrat will have to overcome: 18,000 in an off year and 30,000 in a Presidential.

However, each of the Dems know the odds and they're going for it anyway and that should be respected. Whether or not their message will resonate with enough voters in the the Western part of the District to make a difference is another story.

This all leads me back to what's a guy to do.

As many of you know, I ran against Garrett as the Independent in '06. I've been thinking about what to do next year. There are those who have said I should go again as an Independent or jump in a primary. If I did the latter, which party to pick is the issue; which one would take me is another; and building the infrastructure for a successful campaign in a hurry would be a big challenge.

I'm not walking away from my political views any time soon; however deciding whether or not the Republicans or Democrats best represent my values is still an on-going process. It seems if I go Republican, I'd be what's known in Washington as a Main Streeter; if I went Democratic I'd be closer to a Blue Dog. In other words, I'm a right leaning centrist, who places policy above partisanship, with no place to call a home.

Last time, I wanted voters to have an option between politics as usual and what was being hoisted up by the parties. This time, it would be to hold Garrett accountable to our District. Whether that's best done within a party or as an Indie still needs to be decided, but I will decide in the coming months.

What's a guy to do?

***Update 1*** Based on an e-mail I received, I want to make it clear that I haven't decided whether or not I'm jumping on someone else's campaign or going to run myself. That last paragraph threw somebody for a loop.

***Update 2*** Blue Jersey is reporting that Dennis Shulman outraised Camille Abate in the 3rd Quarter.


Y said...

As you wrote, both Reds and Blues increasingly recognize Garrett for what he is: A poor representative of the 5th CD (to put it nicely). Like it or not, raising money is a requirement on the path to victory in our current system. Even press coverage pivots partially on dollars raised. And who can win without press coverage?
In my mind, before making your decision, you should consider your impact on the race. Abate raised approx $36,000 by Sept 30, vs $332,000 for Garrett. As the race now stands, anti-Garrett dollars will be split between two candidates. Your entry will create a three-way split. True, the FEC limits treat primary and general elections separately, but left-over primary funds can be used in the general. An expensive primary fight will drain the well.
Regarding the difference between Garrett's and Abate's funds raised, Abate deserves applause. Remember, the summer is a dead period, so most of her money probably came after Labor Day, when she was just gearing-up. The election is 14 monthes away from the last FEC filing date. As an incumbent, of course Garrett has a big lead, now. My suggestion, for what it's worth: Take a good look at the two existing candidates. If you find yourself unable to support either of them (I chose Abate), then ask if your entry is more likely to lead to Garrett's victory or defeat. This isn't Red or Blue. It's everyone against a man whose primary concern his himself.

rmfretz said...

Good points to consider, assuming I jumped in on the Dem side. Both of them have done a tremendous amount as far as the fundraising goes, especially considering how early it is and the fact none of the "experts" thinks a Dem can win. Thanks for the comment.