By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Chris Christie is fighting to stay alive in New Hampshire, Save Jerseyans, the first stage of what could be a protracted primary battle, but back here on the home front, another one of 2016’s leading contenders is laying the groundwork for a New Jersey primary campaign.
On Friday morning, Save Jersey learned that Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s campaign has recruited four co-chairs in New Jersey: Fernando Alonso, Carlos Rendo, Thomas Basta and Michael Thulen.
The endorsement drop comes as things are heating up in terms of rhetoric and Governor Christie has taken a few direct shots at Senator Rubio; there’s an argument to be made (by me) that Christie’s New Hampshire rise is thwarting Trump alternatives from gaining momentum there, so Rubio has every reason to see Christie take it on the chin and the feeling is clearly mutual.
Back to the team – Fernando Alonso of Oradell is Chairman of the Bergen County Republican Hispanic Association and a former LD38 state senate candidate. Carlos Rendo, another Hispanic American leader, is Mayor-Elect of Woodcliff Lake and a regularly-discussed LD39 candidate for whenever Gerald Cardinale retires from the state senate and, the speculation goes, Holly Schepisi moves up. Thomas Basta is an attorney and activist from Madison (Morris County), and Michael Thulen, Jr. serves as both a newly-minted Point Pleasant (Ocean County) Councilman and assistant treasurer of the Young Republican National Federation.
The leadership’s endorsements are posted below the fold:
Today, I am excited to announce my endorsement of Marco Rubio for President. Our country needs new leadership with an uplifting message for the future, and Marco is the one with that message. I am looking forward to helping Marco win New Jersey, and go on to become the next President of the United States.”
– Fernando Alonso
Marco Rubio is the generational leader our country has been waiting for. His inspiring family story along with his conservative message is what our nation needs more than ever. Marco is a unifying leader that can bring Americans together and usher in a New American Century. I am happy to endorse Marco Rubio, and help share his uplifting message with voters in New Jersey.”
– Carlos Rendo
Our country needs a new direction of sound conservatism and a optimistic message, so this election, the choice is easy. That is why I am endorsing Marco Rubio for President. His vision for a New American Century, along with his plans to make America a global leader economically and militarily is why you can count me in for Team Marco.”
– Thomas Basta
Today, I am proud to endorse a leader that has a vision for a New American Century and can also inspire the next generation of leaders to engage their community and government. That leader is Marco Rubio. I look forward to helping Marco win New Jersey.”
– Michael Thulen Jr.
New Jersey’s late primary (the first Tuesday in June) is typically irrelevant in national contests but 2016’s unique dynamic raises the risk that the GOP may not have a de facto nominee after Super Tuesday. Candidates are consequently looking deep and placing more emphasis than usual on later contests including our own.
Grassroots campaign building isn’t without its challenges.
Governor Christie’s presence on the ballot hasn’t helped his polling position here and certainly hasn’t prevented other candidates including Bush and Rubio from raising cash successfully in the Garden State but it has made it significantly harder for opponents to land big name endorsees. For example, Ted Cruz’s Lonegan-led New Jersey leadership team is extensive but conspicuously lacks elected officials, something I suspect his supporters would consider a positive.
How you measure ground strength in a national campaign is a controversial topic reserved for hardcore political nerds. I don’t have the energy for that discussion today (TGIF).
What we know: Rubio moving up in the national and New Hampshire polls, running second to Jeb Bush in the endorsement primary, and he was third for cash-on-hand as of mid-October. The most recently-released public poll found the Senator running second to Donald Trump in the Garden State as he works to tap into a natural base of support among traditional conservatives, foreign policy-oriented voters and Cuban Republicans. There are approximately 80,000 Cuban Americans in the Garden State. That’s almost 1 out of every 100 state residents! Union City is locally known as “Havana on the Hudson.” Nearby West New York is the only “top 25” city in America, ranked by percentage of native Cuban residents, that lies outside of Florida; almost 20% of West New Yorkers claim Cuban ancestry.
We’ll see if any of that ends up mattering here come June….