TRENTON, NJ – Texas Republicans, led by Governor Greg Abbott accomplished a feat this week that many people living in blue states such as California, New York, and New Jersey are now wishing their local Republicans can do. They managed to force every state-level Democrat out of their state indefinitely.
Democrats protested a Republican-led voting reform bill by packing their bags, bringing their booze, and loading into a private jet, without face masks of course, for an indefinite trip to Washington, D.C.
It brings us to our question of the day. How can New Jersey Republicans force Trenton Democrats to pack their bags and booze and join their colleagues down in the D.C. swamp?
Republicans in New Jersey, like Democrats in Texas, are at a disadvantage politically. They do not have enough elected members to have a say at all in any legislation. They have no power to block Democrat legislation and they have no power to pass their own legislation. You can cry, like the Democrats that some form of social injustice is in play, but the reality is, because Republicans in New Jersey don’t know how to win elections at the state level. They also don’t know how to appeal to the moderates or even conservative Democrats.
Just look at Jack Ciattarelli’s gaffe this week about the LGBTQ community. The man literally needs every vote he can get and in one hidden video released, he lost the entire LGBTQ community, even those who might have been considering him because he came off as a homophobic boomer in his delivery on a topic that is actually a legitimate concern for many.
In the State Assembly, Democrats hold 52 seats to the Republican Party’s 28 seats. In the New Jersey State Senate, Democrats have 25 seats and Republicans have 15 seats.
To make matters worse, if Trenton Republicans caused a scene like the Texas Democrats and didn’t show up for work, it wouldn’t matter. Democrats have a quorum with or without Republican participation. As an aide for New Jersey Senator Michael Testa told us this week, there’s no point.
Republicans in New Jersey right now can raise the same complaint that the Democrat party is lodging in Texas. Their votes don’t count. They have no say and they are left out of most of the important decision-making functions in state government. Democrat Governor Phil Murphy typically doesn’t solicit input from the small Republican contingent and he surely doesn’t offer them a seat at his table.
So, why aren’t New Jersey Republicans fighting for their constituents, banging on doors in Trenton and waving their fists in the air for spots on Fox News? Why aren’t they standing on the State House steps day in and day out demanding their voices be heard?
The answer is simple. Most Republicans working in Trenton are content with the small piece of the pie they have managed to hold onto despite operating in a predominantly blue state.
Many of our state Republican leaders are also professional service providers, lawyers, and such that also get high-paying public contracts that could be pulled away from them if they make too big of a scene.
Just ask Doug Steinhardt how that went when he tried to run for Governor. Acording to sources close to him which have never steered us wrong, his partner in his law firm, former Governor James Florio was threatened by the Murphy administration that they would lose state contracts if Steinhardt continued playing in political traffic outside of his own lane in New Jersey, which was keeping the lights on over at the mostly irrelevant NJ GOP Headquarters.
This is all unconfirmed of course, but extremely plausible. He later withdrew his name from the race.
Then you have pay to play gluttonous pigs like Ocean County Assemblyman Greg McGuckin who has his hand on dozens of public jobs across the state. At last count, McGuckin held over 21 public contracts totaling more than $2,000,000 in annual revenue.
It’s not in his best interest to make waves in Trenton, like many of his other counterparts who talk a tough game during campaign season, but then fold into the mix because they’re hoping the powerful Democrats who run the state throw them a few scraps. An appointment to a board here. A contract for some time there. So for McGuckin, political dissent is limited to a press release or two each month chirping from the cheap seats at Governor Murphy.
In Trenton, the squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease. The squeaky wheel gets greased. In professional contract terms, that means no more lucrative sympathy public appointments. Colluding with Democrats is how a strong Republican Mayor like Toms River’s Maurice “Mo” Hill gets an appointment to the powerful South Jersey Transportation Authority in a time when all chambers of New Jersey government firmly controlled by Democrats or how former Jackson Township Republican Councilman Rob Nixon gets a gig as chairman at the New Jersey School Development Authority despite being the focus of a Department of Justice civil rights investigation and then picked to head up Governor Phil Murphy’s gun-grabbing committee.
It’s how a powerful Republican in Toms River like Joe Buckalew rakes in millions of dollars in public funds through his insurance company with his partner, George Norcross, one of the most powerful Democrats in New Jersey. They are all playing the same game and that game isn’t to benefit the people of New Jersey but to line their own pockets with as much taxpayer money as they can until somebody knocks them all out of power.
It’s how Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman, a shrewd businessman takes money from both sides of the aisle in professional contracts so the firm now run by his children can take in over $4,000,000 annually in public jobs.
That’s how New Jersey works. It’s a party, but the everyday citizen is not invited to participate. Republican lawmakers are invited to watch from being the glass wall. Powerful Republicans like Holman, McGuckin, Buckalew, and others will never dare to get up on the State House steps with a megaphone and call for the recall of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. That’s why the party largely ignored the 2018 recall effort of the governor. They didn’t want to lose what little they still have.
They know damn well if they do, the few scraps they are able to forage in a Democrat-controlled state will no longer be dropped on their floor.
We’re not going to go into all of the detail today about who’s eating out who’s hand in the Republican party in New Jersey, that’s for another day, but today is to tell you that if you’re ever expecting a Republican resurgence in New Jersey or the party leaders to start to actually launch a meaningful fight against Democrats, it’s never going to happen with the current group of assemblyman and senators.
What you can do starting today, is look throughout your community for average Joe’s who might be interested in running in assembly and senate primaries in 2023. It’s too late for 2021. The chips are all in place. Republicans might win a seat or lose a seat, but nothing is changing this year. Start building awareness. Start challenging your local Republican clubs if they are part of the problem.
The other thing you can do is get more involved in your county committee. Think about running opponents to throw out the existing committee members who do nothing but maintain the status quo for their handlers. The Republican party in New Jersey can be fixed, but you can be certain that it’s not going to fix itself anytime soon.
The likelihood of New Jersey Republicans mounting enough pressure on state Democrats to bring them to any sort of table is about the same as you winning the Powerball lottery this week.
They’re all in this together. When you realize that, you’ll understand why Jack Ciattarelli won’t defeat Murphy and why Republicans in New Jersey will never mount an uprising against the Democrat party.