With the insider attentions of both parties firmly fixed on the lower reaches of New Jersey and a war going on in LD3, Senate Republicans are going upstairs with a Bergen onslaught they hope will catch Democrats napping.
Republican soccer mom Kelly Langschultz, who’s raised $231,778 in her bid ($64,352 COH, according to
this week’s ELEC report) to unseat state Senator Bob Gordon (D-38) ($229,235 cash raised, $120,327 cash on hand), will go up on television this week with this cable buy, totaling $63,000.
“We need to kick them out,” Langschultz says in the ad, before toeing a soccer ball into a net on camera.
The GOP has torched Gordon and his mates in LD38 mailboxes since Sept. 1, and intends to ramp this ad up heavily now – and maybe later.
The veteran Bergen senator from Fair Lawn is not overly concerned.
He’s focused on policy – not Langschultz.
“There is a lot of exciting stuff going on,” Gordon told InsiderNJ. “I’m reminding people of my record. I have played a significant role on transportation. We got $3.5 billion as the first installment of a Port Authority bus terminal, which is critical to the quality of life of my constituents. We are resolving hearings on NJ Transit. We have uncovered the root causes of NJ Transit dysfunction. The new administration will be in a better position to fix it. We shined a bright light on the failings of NJ Transit to install an emergency braking system. Through the gas tax we have allocated $30 million for emergency braking systems. I’m chairing the legislative manufacturing caucus, which will provide the foundation for economic development and policies that will lead to job creation. [Gov. Chris] Christie failed to produce jobs in this state. I’m proud of my record, which includes support for a tax cut that impacts 85% of senior households, which will average $1000 savings per household, and tax cuts for veterans.”
He’s paid attention to his Republican opponent long enough to feel sickened by her acceptance of the National Rifle Association (NRA’s) endorsement two days after the Las Vegas carnage.
“Wait till we have a Democratic governor,” the senator said.
As for the money factor, his team has $450k cash on hand, and he’s raising another $100K.
“If necessary, we will expand our television ad buy,” he said.
He’s also knocked on 4000 doors, and occupied cable TV time for about a week.
“Kelly’s raised over 90 percent of her money from physicians,” said the senator. “She has apparently convinced a small group of physicians that she will defend their interests on the out of network legislation and she has mistakenly convinced doctors I am involved in this legislation.”
Still, the GOP insists on opportunity in LD38.
There’s some history here, specifically some money history.
And some obvious overriding alliance-shifting history.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2013 election, the same year Gov. Chris Christie did a late swing district ad for Republican Fernando Alonso, Gordon, partying with Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) at the league in Atlantic City, found South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George Norcross III and told him thanks for the late cash infusion. The bundle of love for Bergen from down under helped Gordon spring past Alonso by just 2,012 votes (or 51.9% to 48.1%), quashing the hopes of Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) for a pickup in a swing district – a district that would go the same way as other close opportunities where Kean played hard: LD18 and LD14.
Two years later, Kean’s slate mate, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), looked on in horror as handfuls of his allies got taken out – almost assassination style – by Democratic Party-affiliated PAC money – what amounted to a fearsome combination of GN3-connected cash and big bomb runs by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Bramnick was stunned by the seemingly sudden vaporization of Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and Mary Pat Angelini in LD11, and paralyzed by the sense of not being able to fight back.
It seemed frighteningly unfair.
Who was safe with the thought of the NJEA turning its turrets into a given district and eliminating an incumbent with sheer size and scope at any given time?
Well, Kean and Bramnick decided, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Now, in 2017, with the Republican leaders both lumped up by their rivals but apparently wiser for the
wear, it’s Kean of all people who found a way to that table with the NJEA, collaring an organization humiliated by Gov. Chris Christie and fed up with Sweeney, to focus the teachers’ labor organization on the senate president down in LD3, the very man who stood on a stage after his victory over Kean’s hand-picked candidate and derided the son of a former Republican governor for having the gall to play against him.
Christie doubled down on that dig a week later – in Union City, home to powerful state Senator Brian P. Stack, a Christie and Sweeney ally. “Elections have consequences,” Christie sniffed when asked about Kean’s political lifespan as caucus leader, apparently pinning the losses in LD38, LD14 and LD18 on the senate minority leader, and picking up on the irritated vibrations coming out of Sweeney world. It was going to be fun bullying and taking down Kean, or so they appeared to think. Underestimating the Republican caucus, which sided with Kean over Christie, in fact blaming Christie for not picking up more seats, the newly reelected Republican Governor weathered a first signal that even his fellow Republicans in Trenton were tired of his bullying.
It turned out to be the beginning of the end for Christie, who soon after would find himself reeling in the throes of Bridgegate.
And now, with the Norcross money machine pinned down in LD3 and fighting an NJEA that has forsaken most every other theater of war – and certainly disappeared in the big overwhelming 2015 way from LD11 – to train its attentions on relieving Sweeney of duty, with Kean at its side, Kean is throwing a late left hook at Bergen’s exposed facial features, maybe confident of both GN3 and the NJEA being too distracted by their own South Jersey epic mud fight to be able to pivot northward to help Gordon this time.
It might not matter.
Democrats are very confident of 2017 not looking like 2013 in a variety of other ways, including an enormous popularity gap between the Christie of then, and the now version of Christie, whose horrific erosion began – ironically – with the reanimation of Kean. They just never thought they’d seen Kean muscle himself up even more with the NJEA.
If the senate minority leader can’t take old nemesis Sweeney down for the count, can he at least rough up a less than fully protected Sweeney ally up north?
A Democratic source said the intra-party war in his party has complicated what should be a seamless reelection effort by Gordon and company, with too much money going into LD39, which could be insulation in LD38.