June 2, 2005


A social and fiscal conservative (Marvin Olasky, June 2, 2005, Townhall)

In the early '90s, Newt Gingrich called him "the most exciting Republican in the country." Jack Kemp said he was "the gold standard when it comes to political leadership in America today." Can anyone guess his name?

The name is Bret Schundler, now 46, and he's trying to win a second New Jersey gubernatorial nomination in next Tuesday's GOP primary. This race and the November finale, if his candidacy survives, are significant outside this capital city of a tiny state because few northeastern Republicans are willing to be identified publicly as conservative, evangelical and pro-life.

The youngest of nine children, Schundler graduated from Harvard in 1981, helping to pay his way by washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms. He worked for a liberal congressman and on Gary Hart's campaign in 1984, and those experiences helped him to see that, in general, "Democrats care more about the constituencies making money from social programs than about the people supposedly being helped." He saw government programs typically hurting rather than helping: "The government was making people homeless." [...]

[N]ow Schundler is trying again with "one simple message": Binding annual caps on state, county, municipal and school spending, with those caps to be exceeded only if voters approve. This would result in lower property taxes. It's essential in New Jersey to keep it simple, because the state has no major television stations: Candidates have to buy expensive ads on New York City and Philadelphia stations, which give almost no coverage to New Jersey politics.

Polls have shown Schundler in a tight race with pro-choice-on-abortion Doug Forrester; other conservatives are far behind. Schundler could (if moderates truly tolerated conservatives) bring together the fiscal and social conservative wings of the GOP by saying no to high taxes, abortion and same-sex marriage, but he needs a breakthrough.

He's not going to beat John Corzine so why not wait and run for his Senate seat?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 2, 2005 10:52 AM

He has executive experience, liked it, and wants to be an executive. He's an idea man, not a compromiser wheeler/dealer, and to get things done he wants an executive position where his ideas would have to be heard. It's also why he loses - in New Jersey, not enough people share his ideas.

Running for the Senate seat would be logical - since the power of a Senator is checked by 99 others, the voters don't mind maverick ideas in a Senator as much they do in a governor. He might not like the position as much, but his chances of success would be higher.

Posted by: pj at June 2, 2005 12:27 PM