TRENTON, N.J. – It wasn’t that long ago that the New Jersey Republican State Committee (better known to most as the “NJGOP”) did little more than help cover Chris Christie’s travel tab and, on one notable occasion, spent valuable, finite party resources boosting the cause of the state gas tax.
To his credit, NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt (who was reelected to a second term at his post earlier this year) is doing his best to rebrand the tarnished organization. Step #1: actually being useful. And present.
“It’s no secret that liberal special interests, Democrat party bosses and millionaire Phil Murphy have and were always going to vastly outspend Republicans in 2019,” Steinhardt told Save Jersey in the week preceding Election 2019. “But the NJGOP refuses to be outworked. We have put ourselves in a position to be successful in the Murphy Midterms through grit, smart spending and a powerful message of rejecting one party rule in Trenton. I am proud that the NJGOP has become a hub of resources for Republican candidates and party organizations around the state. Our party has solutions to real problems and New Jersey can do better.”
Steinhardt isn’t just talking. He’s walking. Better yet, he’s driving all over the state on a daily basis. As recently as 2016, it was a rare thing to see an NJGOP leader south of Trenton. Rarer than finding a Benny or Shoobie on the boardwalk in January. Sure enough, a causal investigation of Steinhardt’s social media verifies that he’s on the road constantly along or contemporaneously with his staff, giving the state party a statewide presence for the first time in a decade. Barbecues, spaghetti dinners, rubber chicken dinners in all 21 counties.
The statewide NJGOP conference in Atlantic City (two years in) is another tangible work-in-progress which evidences an intention to build something real and lasting.
There are some good black-and-white numbers, too, which suggest the organization’s priorities are improving.
This year, the NJGOP tells Save Jersey that it’s recruited and put-to-work 1,000 volunteers across the state; tech-driven voter contact tools help bridge the gap between the party’s growing needs and the limitations of the party’s physical infrastructure in certain parts of the state. As of this writing, the new recruits have hit 75,000+ doors and notched texts/calls to over 300,000. The party has also gone from several dozen donors (yes – not hundreds or thousands – dozens) to over 1,000 this cycle.
They’re even spending some money on an actual piece of paid content FOR the benefit of Republican candidates. The ad below is currently running on NJ 101.5 during Bill Spadea’s morning program and Harry Hurley’s WPG Talk Radio 95.5FM 1450AM program (Hurley is a popular morning host along the Southern Jersey Shore, much of which is inside this year’s hotly contested LD1 legislative district).
Mission accomplished? Hardly. There’s a long way to go, a fact acknowledged by the chairman and every operative working with the NJGOP, and there’s a distinct possibility that N.J. Republicans will post another net loss in the Assembly this year. The 2011 map, national politics, and a lack of messaging from the GOP’s legislative caucus are among the leading factors. Rock bottom may still lie ahead.
Still, the NJGOP under Doug Steinhardt appears to (finally) be playing the long game instead of narrowly serving one man’s best interests. That’s real progress any way you slice it.