2013: Some early signals

rubashov-shutOne 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.

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7 Comments

  1. Johnny Spags says:

    There are a couple of glaring questions that jump out at me.

    1) Why is Lonegan making such a point to align himself with the “tea party” when they can’t win, and they only hurt candidates, even in much more conservative parts of the country?

    2) Why are the tea party groups he is aligning himself so closely with, through Americans For Prosperity, namely Americans for Liberty and the Bayshore Tea Party Group, both privately owned and for profit entities?

    3) Does Americans For Prosperity know and encourage Lonegan’s use of AFP to funnel money to for profit “tea party” entities that will then support him when he runs again?

    4) Is any of this legal?

    5) Do grassroots conservatives in New Jersey think that what Lonegan is doing is a good idea to advance conservative principles or do they think he is advancing his own career and enriching others at their expense?

    This is all so reminiscent of the emperor who has no clothes while the wool is pulled over the eyes of well meaning every day conservatives and raises the question of what does Americans for Prosperity national organization know about and tacitly allow/endorse?

  2. Donny Dee says:

    LMAO!! Lonegan for Governor is a joke. He got some money the last time he ran because at the start of the race he had more fundraising connections and greater name recognition than Chris Christie. This time he can’t raise serious money because nobody in their right mind is going to piss money away on a perennial loser politically marginalized by Chris Christie who enjoys overwhelming approval and support from Republicans. And anybody who thinks GOP primary voters will punish Christie and vote for Lonegan just because he said something nice about Obama in the midst of recovery efforts is definitely inhaling or ingesting some strange substances.

  3. truther says:

    anybody who thinks GOP primary voters will punish Christie and vote for Lonegan just because he said something nice about Obama in the midst of recovery efforts is definitely inhaling or ingesting some strange substances.

    Well Donny, there is that and the fact that property taxes have gone up big time even before the storm. Then there are the choices the Gov makes. Every time you turn around there is some Ms. Cock Ring appointed to head the Dept of Children and Families, an anti-gun Paula Dow to run Justice, a We Are The World Harris/Mohammed/Kwan the crook as a Judge, and the list goes on and on.

    Just reading a list of who he’s appointed would make you never stop vomiting.

  4. Ben in Hunterdon says:

    Johnny - You raise some interesting and good questions. Makes me think what game is Lonegan playing.

    Donny Dee - Difficult to take you seriously when you ridicule someone that was able to raise the money he did and give your idol all he could handle right up until the end of the campaign. Your boy has some serious issues/appointments/decisions to overcome as truther points out. We don’t forget that.

    As much as I don’t like the idea, has anyone else heard the rumors that Lonegan is angling for a third party/independent run that would bypass the primary? Seems to me that would be nothing short of self aggrandizing but I keep hearing rumors that is what he is leaning towards. Perhaps that is why he is using AFP to funnel money to apparently for profit “tea party” groups. Could that actually fly?

  5. James D. says:

    Lonegan is obviously running for governor next year. There is things I don’t understand about how he can do that while working for a non profit group that is funneling money to for profit groups that will shill for him.

    While open to supporting him, he seems to skirt certain laws and has relationships with groups that openly support Nazi’s. (google maggie roddin and realize that Lonegan is funneling money to Americans for Liberty, one of her supporters and a very like minded group).

    Anyway, here is Lonegan’s current stump speech, not necessarily bad, but needs to be looked at in the context of the company he keeps.

    Lonegan addresses Tea Party members

    By ERIC OBERNAUER

    eobernauer@njherald.com

    ANDOVER TWP. — Calling the recent presidential election “a referendum not on Barack Obama’s success but on the Republican Party’s failure,” former gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan urged members of the Sussex County Tea Party Wednesday to continue fighting for principles of limited government and economic freedom.

    In an address at the American Legion lasting just over an hour, Lonegan spoke about economic policy and discussed his view of the road ahead for the conservative movement. Describing the recent election as a setback for the movement, Lonegan harked back to the sacrifices of those who fought in the American Revolution and said, “It’s gonna be really hard and I don’t know how long it’s gonna take.”

    “Freedom is hard, but the sacrifices we’ve made in this election cycle are nothing compared to those who fought for our freedom,” Lonegan said.

    Recalling the privations of the Civil War, he added, “If you think things are hard now, imagine yourself as Abe Lincoln when 10,000 bodies were being piled daily in front of the White House. Or imagine yourself as Winston Churchill after reading Mein Kampf and knowing what Hitler had in store while others were calling for appeasement. Or imagine yourself as Ronald Reagan wanting to defeat the Soviet Union when others wanted to capitulate.”

    Lonegan, who directs the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, decried the healthcare legislation passed by Congress in 2010. He also decried taxpayer funding for offshore windmills and “cap and trade” legislation aimed at taxing fossil-fuel energies to provide subsidies for clean energy, adding that current fiscal and monetary policies were putting the nation on the brink of economic collapse.

    While the overwhelming majority of attendees applauded, one person in the room, Mark Quick, of Frelinghuysen, heckled Lonegan when he offered praise for Congressman Scott Garrett. Quick accused Garrett and the Republicans in Congress of having “sold out” the middle class through free-trade policies that put American workers in competition with cheap labor overseas.

    Still, most of the criticism of those gathered was leveled at President Obama, whom one person accused of trying to bankrupt the country so that Americans would have to submit to a world currency. But, responding to suggestions that the election was rigged, Lonegan said, “There was no voter fraud; there was political fraud.”

    Lonegan added that current monetary policies were debasing U.S. currency and making it impossible for senior citizens to live off their savings and for young people to save for a decent future. He said it was incumbent on those gathered in the room to be “the next greatest generation and save this country.”

    At the close of his speech, a member of the Sussex County Tea Party suggested that another “March on Washington” by Tea Party activists was needed.

    Lonegan said he was planning such a gathering in the coming year.

    “We’re not tired,” Lonegan said. “How about we tell Barack Obama and the Imperial Left that we’re not going away and that New Jersey will lead the effort? You have given me the spirit to go back and work even harder.”

  6. Donny Dee says:

    Steve Lonegan will never go third party. He would get less votes than Bader Qarmout, and destroy whatever credibility he has left with conservatives. The clown to watch is former State Senator and tea party leader Richard “Dick” LaRossa, who has nothing to lose and an oversized ego bigger than the Goodyear Blimp. He’s already embarassed himself so many times one more dump in his pants won’t make any difference.

  7. alexie says:

    Hmmmm, LaRossa? Maybe and he wouldn’t need too many votes to sink Christie’s ship. Maybe Lonegan will put him up to it.