April 19, 2004

HOW DOES THE GARDEN STATE GO?:

State Republicans See 2004 As a Year of Opportunity (Steve Landfield, 4/16/04, Practical Politics)

New Jersey has been firmly in the Democratic camp in presidential elections. You would have to go back 16 years, to the 1988 Bush-Dukakis contest, to find the last time the Republicans carried this state in presidential voting. In the last presidential election, in 2000, Al Gore easily won New Jersey by over half a million votes.

But, it’s now four years later and an entirely different world, suggesting for state Republicans that this is a year of great opportunity. First and foremost, according to state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, chair of the NJ State Republican Committee, is the president himself and the power of his leadership. In the post-9/11 world, “The preeminent issue of our time is the nation’s security,” said Kyrillos, and that, he suggests, is where the president has shown his greatest strength. “A majority of people believe we should be vigilant.” [...]

Counting on Jewish voters Republicans also feel optimistic about their support from the Jewish community. While a large majority of Jews vote Democratic, many are expected to show their gratitude to Bush at the polls for standing by Ariel Sharon’s side and refusing to deal with Yasser Arafat. The GOP, meanwhile, is trying to paint Kerry as a candidate in thrall to the Jimmy Carter wing of the Democratic Party and its “evenhandedness” toward the Mideast conflict. Even a small swing among Jewish voters can be significant in key battleground states for 2004, such as New Jersey, Florida, and Ohio.

“There has been no better president for Israel,” according to Kyrillos. “There has been a commitment for the State of Israel and for the American-Israeli partnership.” And that commitment translates into hard dollars for Republicans, not only at the national level, but here in New Jersey as well.

Beyond the rhetoric, the state GOP is mounting an aggressive campaign, has hired a new executive director, and is planning a much greater grassroots effort. [...]

For NJ Republicans, the real prize is in 2005, when Gov. James McGreevey is up for reelection. McGreevey has consistently struggled in the polls and will be a prime target for state Republicans. Still, Kyrillos said, their goal is to take things “one step at a time.” Their first goal is to see the president get reelected, and they are not going to be shy about it.


Given the peculiar nature of the scandal surrounding Mr. McGreevey and rumors that Steve Forbes may be willing to step up to the race, the governor's seat would appear to be winnable. Mr. Forbes would do himself some good by being front and center promoting the Bush re-election this Fall.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 19, 2004 4:40 PM
Comments

Regarding Jewish voters, I read today - I don't have the link with me at the moment - that Kerry came out with a very strong pro-Israel statement. He seems to recognize, for once, that his "even-handedness" is an excellent way to antagonize one of the keystone components of the rickety Democratic coalition.

Posted by: Joe at April 19, 2004 6:09 PM

OJ,

Though from Illinois, I'd be very upset that Forbes would run when Schundler deserves another shot (or two).

Forbes "wasted" millions of his own money on a quixotic race when those dollars could have run ads promoting conservative policies or organizing the right.

I love Forbes' views, but he is unelectable. Schundler has the drive and the organization to beat McGreevey. He's also been like a pitbull on NJ issues, even though he lost by decent margin.

He never stopped running. Forbes would split the right, and a big spending RINO will end up winning the nomination.

Posted by: BB at April 19, 2004 7:02 PM

Forbes could have beat Clinton, Dole was never going to.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2004 7:29 PM

oj: I thought you've agreed many times that Clinton was unbeatable because incumbents with good economies don't lose? See Bush, G.W., 2004, for further proof of principle.

Posted by: brian at April 19, 2004 8:16 PM

The Clinton years though are an aberration in a political realignment to the Right. Someone without Congressional baggage, especially Gingrichian baggage, could have made it even closer than it was anyway.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2004 8:22 PM
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