2013: Some early signals
One week after the first polls closed in the 2012 Presidential Election, Americans for Prosperity New Jersey held a post-election meeting in Woodbridge that was attended by more than 200 activists. AFP’s email alert is quoted below:
Please join me, our tea party friends, and numerous conservative activists and leaders next Tuesday in Woodbridge for our “Spark of Patriotic Fire” Confab. This event will be critical for determining the road ahead and the future of the liberty movement here in New Jersey and in Washington, D.C
This is a time to regroup and prepare for the battles ahead. And I know with our army of grassroots activists mobilized and ready to fight, nothing can stand in our way!
The meeting ended at 9 last evening with closing remarks by AFP State Director Steve Lonegan. At precisely that time, a Draft Steve Lonegan for New Jersey Governor in 2013 movement was launched on Facebook.
This mirrors what happened in the run-up to the 2009 gubernatorial primary, albeit a little earlier. It was on August 4, 2008 that operative Dan Gallic launched an effort to draft Steve Lonegan for Governor.
GOP activist launches ‘Draft Lonegan’ for governor organization
GOP activist Dan Gallic today announced that he is forming an organization to draft former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan to run for governor.
“Our goal is to create a situation where should Steve decide to run, there will be a grass-roots and finance organization already in place to secure him the Republican nomination,” Gallic said in a release.
“Steve Lonegan’s conservative leadership is the reason he is the Republican Party’s premier leader when so many other ‘leaders’ have been asleep at the wheel,” Gallic added. “No one in New Jersey has the record of accomplishment Steve Lonegan has built: from stopping McGreevey’s gasoline tax hike to defeating two ballot questions last November and the Corzine borrowing and toll hike scheme last Spring.”
The gubernatorial election is next year. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine this summer informally announced his intentions to pursue re-election. Potential Republican challengers in addition to Lonegan include U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and Princeton businessman John Crowley.
In his “Draft Lonegan” statement, Gallic highlighted what he saw as Lonegan’s fiscally conservative approach while he was mayor of Bogota, including a record of keeping taxes under the rate of inflation. He also celebrated Lonegan’s decision to file a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey and Gov. Jon Corzine over the governor’s plan to borrow $3.9 billion for new schools construction.
“New Jersey Republicans continue to lose election after election because we run the same old gang of weak-kneed wimpy moderates who believe in nothing and are afraid to throw a punch,” Gallic said.
“Steve Lonegan is the antithesis of the losing Republican,” he added. “He knows how to play the game. Neither the Democrats nor Corzine’s money intimidates him. To Steve, defeat is not an option and that resonates with the millions of overtaxed New Jersey voters ready to give up on our state but ready to give our state one more chance.”
Gallic said he would announce within a few weeks a coalition of Republican leaders in all of the state’s 21 counties “as well as a direct mail fundraising appeal to people who have supported Steve and other conservatives in the past.”
Lonegan serves as state executive director of Americans for Prosperity, and is an unpaid columnist for this website.
Gallic, who managed State Senator Joe Pennachio’s U.S. Senate campaign that same year, later supported Chris Christie for Governor.
Whatever comes of this draft movement, Lonegan has been adopting more of a “Tea Party” identity in recent weeks. This was very much in evidence at AFP’s pre-election event and fundraiser one month earlier, on October 13, where he highlighted the work of several Tea Party leaders.
In contrast to this, was yesterday’s column by Paul Mulshine, Is it time for the tea party to leave? Mulshine, who has a column in the Star-Ledger, writes:
A couple of summers ago, I spent an evening at a pleasant restaurant in a Shore town visiting with some friends who had a rental.
One of them had recently joined a tea-party group. When I got talking to her, I soon realized that she thought mere membership conferred on her an expertise in politics that somehow eluded me, though I’ve spent 35 years covering everything from zoning boards in small towns to guerrilla wars in countries where AK-47s functioned as fashion accessories.
She proceeded to fill me in all the many facts and insights that she had gleaned from her fellow partiers. Those insights culminated in an observation that Barack Obama was an exceedingly unpopular president and that he would certainly be booted out of office by a landslide in 2012.
I informed her that the election would likely be a close one. The Republicans were so stupendously incompetent that they would search out a way to lose despite Obama’s unpopularity, I said.
She looked at me like I was crazy. I suspect she held that opinion right up until 11:30 p.m. a week ago. A lot of other tea-partiers still feel that way, if the e-mail I got the other day from a national tea-party group is any indication. The writer claimed that Obama had stolen the election through some mysterious means. At the bottom was this message: “COMING SOON! IS IT TIME FOR TEA-PARTY GROUPS TO CONSIDER A THIRD PARTY?”
Mulshine doesn’t appear to think much of this threat and bids the Tea Party good riddance and adieu. In any case, while Governor Chris Christie takes his time deciding about next year, other parties are making their opening moves. Whether any of it matters is for the future.