Searching for the heart of the Republican Party

A North Hudson fan of Steve Lonegan called last week to promote the book Atlas Shrugged, a 1957 novel by Ayn Rand that has since become the political Bible of the conservative right.
A classic piece of propaganda, the book celebrates the virtues of the individualist, and paints government as an evil empire designed to limit the abilities of capable capitalists by weighing down such great minds with unnecessary taxes and pointless regulations.
The book is very appealing in that it maintains that great people should not be saddled with useless bureaucracy. But like most books of its kind, it paints a one-sided political picture, idealizing capitalists as the movers and shakers of the world.
Its political counterpart on the left might be the Depression-era book The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and written by John Steinbeck. It depicts capitalism as evil and promotes the workers.
Both books are extremely flawed in that they paint their political opponents as pure evil. Rand paints a world with too much government regulation, while Steinbeck paints a world where there is not enough control over greed.
Both books, however, promote the virtue of jobs and the need for Americans to be employed.
This classic argument features heavily into the New Jersey gubernatorial race – especially when it comes to the Republican primary that has three candidates seeking the privilege of challenging Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine (or one of the handful of Democratic challengers) in the fall. The Republican hopefuls are Lonegan, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, and Rick Merkt.
Seen as frontrunners, Christie and Lonegan are in a campaign fistfight, grasping for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and trying to prove they are the best chance to beat the Democrat come November.
But in a state with declining Republican registrations, party loyalty means less than it once did, and Lonegan’s tough conservative social stance may actually make him seem less attractive to a much more moderate Republican and independent voter base.
Corzine is seen as having a less strenuous primary in June. He faces former Glen Ridge Mayor Carl Bergmanson, and Roger Bacon, a one-time congressional candidate, as well as several lesser known independents. Corzine’s challenge will come in November when he will have to run on a record of having angered state employees and others with budget cuts, and having angered taxpayers who don’t believe he’s done enough to reduce taxes.

Elections in Jersey City and Hoboken

Hoboken’s election – with the lack of an incumbent mayor – will likely wind up in a runoff between the two highest vote-getters.
But which two? Spin doctors are out in force.
At one point, supporters of Dawn Zimmer predicted she would win without a runoff, which meant she would need to get at least 50 percent of all the votes cast, plus one vote.
Some Peter Cammarano people claim the runoff will feature Cammarano and either Zimmer or Beth Mason, in which case these people believe Cammarano will win.
Mason’s people predict there will be a runoff, but say it will be between Mason and Zimmer.
Cammarano and Zimmer supporters argue Mason made a serious mistake in picking a ticket of council candidates who are perceived as having close ties to Councilman Michael Russo and his family.
They say that reformers who might otherwise have supported Mason fled to the Zimmer camp – a trend even some Mason people acknowledge.
Some Cammarano supporters believe that this weakens Mason, but doesn’t strengthen Zimmer enough for her to end up in the runoff against Cammarano. But for Cammarano, it won’t matter which woman wins, since the supporters of Mason won’t vote for Zimmer in the runoff and supporters of Zimmer won’t vote for Mason.
The Cammarano camp sees a strong voter base in the 3rd and 4th wards as well as among senior citizens.
Zimmer appears to have strength in the 2nd and 5th wards as well as a core constituency in the 2nd District of the 4th Ward.
Zimmer’s weakness, both Mason and Cammarano people say, is lack of money and lack of street workers, so that her election will depend on a lot of internet and telephone get-out-the-vote efforts, and how many deserters from the Mason camp she can draw.
Although Zimmer got a significant boost from the decisive victory of the Kids First Board of Education slate, this might not translate into votes since some Mason and even some Cammarano people backed that ticket.
Mason, who had a significant lead in the polls, has to hope she can survive the drain of voters to the Zimmer camp long enough to get into the runoff.
Her campaign is the best funded, which means she can hire a good crew to get out the vote on election night.
If there’s a runoff between Mason and Zimmer, the runoff will be decided by which candidate Old Hoboken – traditional residents of Hoboken – backs. The Mason people believe these voters will back her over Zimmer, electing Mason mayor in June.
If you think that’s confusing, predictions for the council victories are even more outlandish, although most believe it is possible that a candidate from each of the three leading slates could find a seat on the council in this election.

What’s up with these Jersey City poll numbers?

Depending on who you talk to, Jersey City Major Jerramiah Healy is either going to win without a runoff or will face challenger Louis Manzo in a June runoff for mayor in Jersey City.
The problem is that numerous people claim to have seen the latest Healy poll, and each comes up with differing numbers. The most believable of these reports has Healy leading the pack of five candidates with 39 percent, followed by Manzo with 29, and L. Harvey Smith with 24. But making even these numbers doubtful is the lack of undecided voters – and most people believe there are a lot of people who haven’t yet made up their mind.
Also, this report suggests that all of the at-large and ward seats are at risk of getting into runoff elections, when common sense suggests that people like Councilman Steve Fulop and perhaps candidate Jimmy King have nothing to worry about.