By Matt Rooney, cross posted from SaveJersey
Governor Chris Christie took his tax fight to a standing-room-only town hall crowd in Brick Township (Ocean County) yesterday afternoon.
And at that Brick gathering, my dear Save Jerseyans, we caught a welcome glimpse of the no-nonsense style of politics that quickly transformed Chris Christie into a national figure; you’ll likely remember his viral warning to beachgoers in the run-up to Hurricane Irene:
Surely, the contrast between Christie and Corzine in Election ’09 couldn’t have been clearer. I was proud to have been one of his earliest and most vocal grassroots supporters. I still am.
But what is our state party’s winning contrast with the liberal legislature right now in this ongoing budget fight?
I’m with MMM‘s Art Gallagher on this one, Save Jerseyans. There is no meaningful contrast.
Frankly, I didn’t expect miracles in Chris Christie’s first term. You know I’m a pragmatist by nature. The realities of a Democrat legislature and his Corzine inheritance precluded radical change particularly following legislative redistricting. I did, however, expect the Governor to at least fight tooth and nail to hold the line on state spending. That promise was the center plank of his gubernatorial campaign platform. Not just to pick a fight; rather, to rescue our party from the mistakes of its recent past and establish a winning narrative for legislative victories down the road.
Yes, VICTORIES. It’s possible. Look at the polls: the Paul Ryan-era GOP is finally winning the general spending/big government argument! So why would we back off now? Especially in one of that ideological war’s first successful fronts? With the 2012 General bearing down on us, FY 2013 is the time to make a stand if there ever was one.
What we got instead for FY 2013 is a hugely-disappointing non-choice: the state will adopt either (1) a liberal Democrat budget that increases spending with no tax relief included, or (2) a Bush-style “starve the beast” GOP budget (the 3rd largest in state history) that also increases spending (and borrowing) to pay for a relatively modest tax cut.
In all candor, this ”choice” is NOT what I phone banked for back in 2009.
Without a real, genuine, concerted Republican attempt at the 11th hour to trim the FY 2013 budget down, I’m not sure how to convince any Save Jerseyans to phone bank for the GOP ticket in 2013. Mind you, I’ll never vote for a New Jersey Democrat for governor because I don’t have a short memory. The problem will come when we, the conservative grassroots, need to convince other residents that our GOP candidates aren’t, as the old refrain goes, ”all the same” when juxtaposed to their Democrat opponents.
Let’s renew the fight for fiscal responsibility and limited governance, Mr. Governor. We’re still with you! Reining in government is the winning issue at the core of our deeply-held, battle-tested conservative principles. It also happens to be the issue that invariably unites the GOP base, most indies and conservative Democrats.
Yes, the Corzine Democrats suck. We get it, and we all agree. And the millionaire’s tax is both wrongheaded and transparently political.
But without proving to the electorate that we’re also spending and wasting less of their taxed capital, we can never truly expect to achieve permanent tax relief in New Jersey and, ultimately, win a realistic shot at NJGOP gains after you’re gone. I don’t want to go back to the New Jersey Republican Party of 2008, and I know I’m not alone.