The 2022 midterm Congressional races present an acute dilemma in terms of 1) the impact of a particular party’s takeover of one or both Houses of Congress and 2) the relative assets and liabilities of the individual candidates.
The prospect of a Republican takeover of either house is dreadful. The GOP is at this point the anti-democracy party, with the Republican delegation in each House of Congress dedicated to 1) obstructing the investigation of former President Donald Trump’s January 6 attempt to foment an insurrection against the United States government; and 2) defeating the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021. These two bills are designed to protect minority voting rights by setting aside discriminatory state legislation and preventing voter intimidation.
During the past week, however, the Republican House of Representatives delegation reached new depths in its continuing war against inter-party civility. Congressman Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona had published the most vile and offensive social media, depicting the murder of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and violence directed at President Joe Biden.
Yet except for Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the Republican members of the House of Representatives unanimously refused to vote for the censure of Gosar. Such political cowardice is a disgraceful blot on the political party of Dwight David Eisenhower.
Eisenhower was the courageous president who desegregated the schools of Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 and succeeded in that same year in enacting the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction. Ike was also the master politician who set the stage for the censure in 1954 of US Senator Joseph McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin. Sometimes, I feel like an historical anachronism – the last Eisenhower Republican still alive in New Jersey.
Yet I have an inner conflict between 1) my abhorrence of virtually all that the national Republican Party currently espouses and 2) my strong preference for the election of three Republican challenger candidates in New Jersey for the US House of Representatives.
These three GOP challengers are 1) Tom Kean, Jr. (7th District) over Democratic incumbent Tom Malinowski; 2) Robert Healey, Jr. (3rd District ) over Democratic incumbent Andy Kim; and 3) Nick De Gregorio (5th District) over Democratic incumbent Josh Gottheimer. Each of these three Republican challenger candidates possesses a desirable mixture of experience and character that would benefit the House of Representatives, both in the crafting of legislation and the quality of debate.
Tom Kean, Jr. has. been a competent Republican New Jersey State Senate leader. His character, policy insight, and energy would qualify him as a candidacy for leadership in the new Republican class in the House of Representatives coming to office in 2023.
Kean would only add to the proud legacy of his grandfather, Congressman Bob Kean, not to mention his father, Tom Kean, the greatest 20th century governor of New Jersey. Bob Kean was the ultimate Righteous Gentile who was one of the first members of Congress who called for the open immigration of Jewish refugees from the horrors of Nazism during the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel after the Second World War.
Robert Healey, Jr., 38, the scion of the South Jersey based Viking Yacht Company, has not only been a successful businessman but a leader in international humanitarian activities as well. He serves on the Healey Education Foundation, which helps Catholic schools become self-sustaining while fostering the enrollment of children from low-income backgrounds, and the Gleneayre Equestrian Program, which helps children and teens overcome personal challenges through a love of horses.
He also is the Co-Founder and President of the Healey International Relief Foundation, which was established to improve the quality of life of individuals and families in the war-torn country of Sierra Leone in West Africa through medical assistance, food banks, healthcare education, clean water, work programs for amputees and basic essentials for orphaned children so they can reach their full potential.
It is this humanitarian decency which is sorely lacking in the Republican caucus in the US House of Representatives and would make Healey such a welcome addition.
When I think of the 36-year-old Nick De Gregorio, two aspects of his background come to mind: Patriotism and educational preparation.
De Gregorio served with distinction as a Marine Officer in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. He is a man of demonstrated achievement in the academic world, receiving degrees from two distinguished institutions of higher learning, his undergraduate degree from Bucknell, and his MBA /MS in foreign service from Georgetown. He is now a successful trader on Wall Street.
It is this quality of intellectualism that would make Nick DeGregorio a political gift to the current Republican caucus in the US House of Representatives, which consists largely of an uncultivated collection of political thugs for whom the word “Philistinism” would be an understatement.
Kean, Jr, Healey, and DeGregorio are three prospects in the Republican firmament whom I would I would normally endorse without hesitation. Yet their election could provide additional supporting votes for the anti-democracy, anti-civility agenda of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trumpist advocate whose corrupt moral character and lack of commitment to the principles of democracy and civility would make him the worst Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives since Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois, the anti-Progressive abusive Speaker who ruled the House from 1903 until 1911.
I feel that regardless of the evils of Kevin McCarthy and his fascistic thug henchman, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, I have no choice but to endorse Tom Kean, Jr especially given my role in the enactment of the New Jersey Holocaust Education Mandate, which was my most passionate involvement during my years of service in New Jersey state government. No gentile political family in America has demonstrated more dedication to Holocaust education and Holocaust remembrance than the Keans.
My endorsement of Tom, Kean, Jr. is almost a matter of religious obligation. I only ask one favor of him. Do not bring Kevin McCarthy back to New Jersey for any more campaign appearances. I do not want my endorsement of you to become something personally unpalatable to me.
As for Robert Healey and Nick DeGregorio, I want to support both these candidates. My determining factor will be how they meet the challenge of independence from the political parafascism that is Kevin McCarthy, as manifested most graphically in the Paul Gosar scandal.
Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.