The GOP primary in NJ is coming up, and many of us here are just now making up our minds as to who our best and most conservative candidate for governor might be.
If you listen to the commercials being run by Steve Lonegan, then you would have to conclude that Chris Christie is Karl Marx. If you listen to Christie's commercials, you would think that Steve Lonegan isn't much more conservative than Barack Obama with his plan to raise taxes on 70% of NJ residents.
So, who do you believe? Well for me, one key thing is the company you keep. NJ conservatives are well aware of how to do some RINO spotting in politics. Our state GOP has been dominated by RINOs for as long as I can remember. And those RINOs have been telling us the same lies as the national "moderates" in the party. If only we would drop all of our convictions and become socially liberal and stop trying to shrink government and spending we could win elections.
The problem with that solution is that it doesn't work. Now, yes my state elected Tom Kean in the 1980s. He was a moderate that led the state to victory. He was also, I would argue running in the 1980s when NJ voted for Ronald Reagan twice. Hardly, a moderate, that Reagan.
Our other RINO darling is disastrous governor Christie Whitman, who won election twice by the skin of her teeth each time. The only reason Whitman was able to win was because the NJ voters were so angry at Governor Florio's tax increases. In truth, she should have defeated him in a landslide given the angst against the man in this state at the time. Her re-election was against Jim McGreevey, and the only thing that saved her that time was the slight bump that incumbency gives. Had McGreevey been a stronger candidate, Whitman would have been thrown out with the garbage.
So getting back to that company question. When I see Chris Christie being supported by Steve Forbes, Bret Schundler, Rep. Chris Smith, libertarian and occasional Republican Murray Sabrin all lining up behind Christie, I have to wonder if Lonegan's attacks against the man are dishonest.
If Steve Forbes backs you as a economic conservative, I'm inclined to agree. Of course, Lonegan himself claims to be a conservative yet has gone on record promising to slash property tax rebates and admitting that his tax plan will raise taxes on 70% of NJ residents. As I understand it, Lonegan is proposing some variation of the flat tax. However, if your plan, flat or not, calls for an increase on taxes of 70% of residents, you have to lower your rates. That's just lunacy in a state that taxes the snot out of its residents already.
If Chris Smith and Bret Schundler support you as the pro-life candidate, I'm fairly certain that you are in fact pro-life. In fact, a recent Lonegan radio ad cited their evidence that Christie was pro-choice by playing a clip of him saying that Roe v. Wade was the law of the land and as governor he would be legally obligated to uphold the law. There is nothing pro-choice about that statement. Christie--and Lonegan--would be legally obligated to do just what Christie described. They aren't above the law and they couldn't just disregard the law. They could, however, make appointments that would begin to chip away at that law, but there is nothing wrong in Christie's quote. If that is the worst that the Lonegan people have on him, they don't have much.
After looking at both candidates, I have made some conclusions. First, I don't see any real evidence that Christie is a moderate or a RINO. He may turn out to be one, but there is nothing on his website, in his associations, or in his positions that says to me that he is a moderate. Second, I have some serious questions on Lonegan's ideas, although I do believe he is at least a strong social conservative. I also have serious questions about Lonegan's honesty and integrity. The dishonest mailings and commercials I have seen so far are not based on facts, but rather hysteria based on half-truths and quotes taken out of context to scare the primary voters into hunting a RINO. The combination of a questionable economic plan and the dishonest and unprofessional nature of his campaign thus far have led me to conclude that I cannot vote for Steve Lonegan. The endorsements and the positions laid out by Chris Christie have demonstrated to me that he is a conservative and someone who could actually topple Governor Corzine. That is why this NJ conservative, who twice fought the system by voting for and volunteering for Bret Schundler for Governor, will be voting for Chris Christie in our primary.