That’s Nucky’s life. He’s always on the brink of empire or oblivion simultaneously. It’s also the life of a contemporary New Jersey Republican, particularly in purple territory like modern day Atlantic County. Look no further than Election 2013 for examples.
No one right or left seriously expected veteran Assemblyman John Amodeo to lose this year. The public polls suggested a closer race than would make most incumbents comfortable but an incumbent with union backing largely untouched by the third party spending blitz seen in many South Jersey legislative contests couldn’t be blamed for feeling comfortable in the “Christie year.”
The Governor carried Atlantic County which entirely contains Amodeo’s LD2 with better than 62% of the vote despite a modest but significant Democrat voter registration advantage. Asm. Amodeo nevertheless found himself tripped up by a popular opponent in the upset of the season; evidence of his surprise can be found in the fact that he still has approximately $174,000 cash on hand as of this writing.
And then there’s the other amazing upset of the night out of Atlantic City, the legendary beach resorts at the heart of LD2, where Republican Don Guardian found a way to win in a 12-to-1 Democrat town without name surrogates and outside help. I knew something was happening there about one week or so before Election Day when locales started cluing me into the potential for an upset. On election eve, there was a word of a 100-person strong phone bank operation cranking out voter contacts in A.C. The rest is history.
Sure, Democrats weren’t infatuated with the Democrat incumbent. I don’t care. It still takes more than that to win when there’s 12 of them for every one of yours!
Thus, the boardwalk lesson from Election 2013 is worth remembering, and it’s a little more profound than “every vote counts” (though the margins certainly invite the reminder): Republicans can win everywhere AND lose anywhere in the Garden State. The LD2 and A.C. contests are proof positive of it. Whether you’re in a position to win is up to you, Save Jerseyans, and you’ve got no one to blame but yourselves if you don’t do the work to get yourselves there.
Start working on it now if 2014 or 2015 are in your sights… that’s what Nucky would do.