OPINION: This year’s N.J. GOP Primary is quickly turning into a lost opportunity

When my little brother and I tortured each other as children (nothing out of the ordinary for boys), Save Jerseyans, our parents used to say something I’m sure you’ve heard before: “I don’t care who started it, but I’m/we’re going to finish it.”

I don’t have the power to “finish” this year’s progressively ugly New Jersey Republican gubernatorial primary.

I nevertheless believe someone needs to say the following:

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Primary 2017 could’ve been a fantastic opportunity to provide the vast majority of possible Republican voters (GOP base types, Unaffiliated voters, and persuadable Democrats alike) detached from the “inside baseball” to hear how/why our current crop of proposed Chris Christie successors will be different than Chris Christie. The opposition party in this state lies in ruins. Swimming away from the Christie stink is challenging enough, but even if you aren’t a natural GOP voter, you should agree that having only ONE party in a state where special interests are richer than Midas is an objectively dangerous situation for democracy. Voters need an alternative for which to vote…

…because, lest we forget, whoever wins in June will face Jon Corzine on steroids in November. A vicious, hyper-partisan political money man whose wacky ideas might’ve made Chairman Mao blush and whose tenure in public service should invite a high level of scrutiny. Our candidates should be spending every waking moment providing a contrast to the unworkable, unaffordable, unacceptable, this-is-why-our-property-taxes-suck status quo.

Instead? The GOP campaigns are savaging each other in what increasingly appears to outsiders who can bear to pay attention like a boss fight over scraps as opposed to a serious discussion about where New Jersey Republicans should go from here. You may think that’s an unfair characterization because you strongly believe in one candidate or another or one faction’s ability to “right the ship,” I get that, but perception is all that matters in politics.

Try to see recent events through the eyes of someone who doesn’t spend half of their working days reading sites like SaveJersey.com/PolitickerNJ/Politico. This isn’t a “red” state – not even close – but it’s not a hopelessly “blue” one either. Most voters don’t care about “process,” i.e. who witnessed which nominating petition and who put up which opposing freeholder slate. They never have (and never will) know the names of MOST of the politicians we discuss. They  do care about being able to afford health insurance, property taxes and car payments.

They’re certainly not going to appreciate the importance of preventing Phil Murphy (D-Goldman Sachs) from being set loose on the New Jersey economy unless we stop obsessing over the same old internal bullshit AND ARTICULATE TO THEM HOW WE’RE DIFFERENT.

How our vision for New Jersey is radically different from what Florio/Whitman/McGreevey/Codey/Corzine/Christie let behind….

A little perspective is what’s needed now. Time to get real: it doesn’t really matter at this point who threw the first punch, Save Jerseyans. All that matters is that needs to stop – yesterday – before this cycle officially becomes a lost opportunity for the good guys.

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