Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Republican Primary Wars

With the announcement by Representative Mike Ferguson that he'd be retiring, NJ's political class (PolitickerNJ, Blue Jersey, Red Jersey, Conservatives With Attitude) has started full tilt speculation as to who is going to run.

This is likely to be a heck of a fight between the Conservatives and moderate Republicans. AJ Sparxx over on CWA-NJ has already started beating the Conservative drum:
Now is the time to find a Conservative to win this seat and take it away from a moderate like Ferguson, keep it out of the hands from a moderate like Kean, Jr. and most importantly, keeping the Democrats from picking it off.
One group that is likely licking their chops is the Club For Growth. Back in September, they were already very pleased with their prospects for next year. The question is, outside of our District where they spend and raise a ton of money backing Representative Scott Garrett, how successful can they be in New Jersey?

Robert Novack pointed out that The Club was "founded to support conservatives and punish liberals in Republican primaries." They claim 40,000 members, and their bundling ability is rivaled by very few. Even though it seems they've only given Garrett $16,192 in donations, it's nearly impossible to guess how much of the $4.6 million he's raised over the years have come from Club members. I'm sure they let him know, which likely is why he switched his vote on Greenwood Lake funding once they came out against it.

The Club cost Republicans the Senate with their attacks on former Senator Lincoln Chaffee, and they are already targeting several Republicans. As with Rhode Island, we're a relatively blue state with several purple Districts, so it would be interesting to see how their tactics play here. Here's their list of priorities:
Club for Growth Policy Goals:
    • Making the Bush tax cuts permanent
    • Death tax repeal
    • Cutting and limiting government spending
    • Social Security reform with personal retirement accounts
    • Expanding free trade
    • Legal reform to end abusive lawsuits
    • Replacing the current tax code
    • School choice
    • Regulatory reform and deregulation
Notice balancing the budget, paying down the deficit, fixing the AMT and creating jobs are not on the list. As I pointed out earlier, the Bush policies Garrett pledged to back have caused the deficit to grow and the dollar to sink. I suppose it could be called the "Club for Foreign Wealth and Power Growth."

The point is, Republicans (and Democrats for that matter) in the 7th, 3rd, and here in our Fifth need to fight to have a Representative who isn't a slave to the special interests. While the Club's 40,000 members can raise a lot of money and they'll spend a lot on ads calling people names, a Representative in NJ has about 700,000 constituents.

Garrett's a lost cause on this front, but in the interest of a better government and economy, my hope is that the Reps and Dems running in those Districts will put the special interests aside. Voters there should demand it. An open seat is the ultimate chance to change politics as usual. We'll have to see what primary voters make of the opportunity.

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