OPINION: NJ GOP candidates can’t win without taking on the Democrats

By Synnove Bakke | The Save Jersey Blog

As reported by several news outlets this week, Senator Michael Doherty believes that had Republicans come out with a strong united message opposing the gas tax, those four devastating incumbent Assembly seat losses could’ve been avoided.

As a candidate for Assembly this year, I spoke with Bill Spadea of 101.5 opposing the gas tax and promoted cutting County Government and consolidation of bloated authorities instead. I suggested drastic solutions, and the many voters I have spoken with were nothing but positive to them. Drastic solutions are what we need to fix the fiscal mess NJ has become.

Gas pumpI hate telling anyone “I told you so” but Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick and others were dead wrong for entertaining raising the gas tax while we were running for Assembly 2015.

Senator Doherty states in an email to his colleagues that “[w]e had 69% of Independent voters and 73% of Republican voters on our side. Why did Republican Assembly leadership come out in support of a gas tax increase? R Assembly candidates should have all come out 100% against a gas tax increase.

It sent a message to those 66 % of overall voters who oppose it, and even 54% of Democrats who share their opinion, that the Republicans would be no different than the Democrats ruling in Trenton so why even bother to vote? In an already low turnout election this proved a critical error.

We suffered the worst Assembly losses in 36 years and that says a lot about our party. I believe we have more than the gas tax to blame.

Assembly leader Bramnick has been reelected Assembly leader since the election, and I am not saying he shouldn’t have been reelected, but I sincerely hope the GOP quits being the weak party that stands for too many Democrat policies which got our state into its financial troubles in the first place.

With a near-super majority in the Assembly, the Democrats are already moving forward with their time and tax dollar-wasting agenda. While our state is laden with $167 Billion of unsustainable debt, an unsustainable transportation fund, and a pension fund mess that sees no relief in sight, one of the first issues on the Dem agenda… is to bring up drivers licenses for illegal immigrants? And launching fresh attacks on our Second Amendment rights?

In my opinion, it’s way past time for the New Jersey Republican Party to formulate a stronger message! It’s time we adopt a clear party platform. It’s ridiculous to ask people to vote for you if you don’t have something to point to which draws a clear contrast between your campaign and the ruling Democrat Party.

We have some solid conservatives in our party. Senator Doherty is one of them, and there’s a reason why they keep on winning elections besides the map. They stand strong for what they believe in, and they don’t hesitate and play along with Democrats to win votes. They are true to their principles and values and who in their right mind isn’t attracted to that? New Jerseyans want to vote for people touting clear solutions, and they’re very tired of listening to the same old carefully crafted talking points.

Our bridges and roads are in major disrepair and we have a transportation fund that will go broke in June 2016 if nothing drastic gets done.

Some interesting Doherty facts: “New Jersey spends $2 million per mile on road construction, twelve times the national average. We spend four times more per mile than Massachusetts, another northeastern state with a similar climate.  We spend more than New York and California.”

The horror story doesn’t end there because, according to NJ Watchdog, “the deficit in state pension and health benefit plans for public employees is fast approaching $200 billion.” The unfunded liabilities have reached a staggering $194.5 billion; the shortfall has increased by $19 billion – or roughly 10 percent – in the past year.”

GOPYet despite all of this, only 20.8 percent of registered voters in the state turned up to the polls on Election Day, according to a preliminary analysis by Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. That would shatter the previous record for the lowest voter turnout New Jersey has ever seen in a statewide election.

How sad is that? We are a state in extreme fiscal crisis, and the same lawmakers who caused it get reelected. They’ve had majority for the last 15 years, and even though Christie was governor for 1 1/2 terms, we made no gains in seats. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

In ending my rant, I blame our recent loss on the lack of overall clear messaging by GOP, their tip toeing around the Democrats’ reckless spending, and by compromising too much.

Shame on any Republican who compromises on taxes while New Jersey is one of the highest taxed states in the nation! We have a tax on pretty much everything, death tax, inheritance tax, estate tax, etc. People and businesses are moving South in droves.

If raising taxes was ever the right solution, then why are we in this fiscal mess? It’s the question our candidates need to ask in 2017, loudly, or we can expect a repeat of 2015!


Synnove Bakke
About Synnove Bakke 27 Articles
A 2015 candidate for the N.J. Assembly, Synnove Bakke was born in New Jersey to immigrant parents but moved back to Norway as an infant where she lived throughout her childhood and young adult years. She returned to the U.S. after graduating from nursing school to work as an au pair for one year. She quickly fell in love with this great country and never relocated back to her native Norway.


  1. IMHO, You Failed, even without the GOP symbol on your signs, You failed even with Great ideas and plans to save NJ Billions. You failed because you did not understand Twitter. You failed because you do not understand Power and how the Power Players work (Li’L Jon does) so I think whatever you say is irrelevant but it might work in Norway!

  2. so what about articulating a solution for funding the road construction without raising the gas tax. talk is cheap! and when you compare states, cars and roads, understand that NJ is the most dense state.

  3. I agree with Synnove and that isn’t always the case. The state wide organization and message was lacking, The Dems do a better job at targeting. When “we” had that rally in AC and then the first commercial, we were in trouble for being dull and vapid. Where we diverge is that the GOP did lose the numbers game. What hope is there when we can’t even get our own base to the polls.

  4. She ran in a very tough Democrat district and at least she fought back when attacked. She isn’t afraid to go on offense. That shows she has the makings of a winner.

Comments are closed.