On Election Day 2021, the NJ Republican Consolation will be Jean Stanfield

Jean Stanfield

Election Day 2021 will be another day of continuing misery for the New Jersey Republican Party. It will mark another GOP event of self-destruction due to the pernicious political cancer of Trumpism.

The prime victim will be the GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli.  He was a bright shining light for the NJGOP four years ago when he courageously waved the anti-Trump banner, but since then he literally sold his soul to Trumpism.  He went so far as to appear as a featured speaker at a “Stop the Steal” rally last November, and if you believe his denials of lack of knowledge of the rally purpose, I have a bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn that I can sell you.

Most shamefully, after the despicable and traitorous Trump- inspired and fomented Day of Insurrection on January 6, 2021, Jack tried initially to blame Democrats and Republicans equally, only first publicly ascribing the primary blame and responsibility to Donald Trump eight months later at the first debate on September 28, 2021.

Ciattarelli would have been a substantial underdog in this campaign to begin with, given the fact that Phil Murphy has been New Jersey’s most successful governor since Tom Kean.  The polls show that the electorate rightly gives him favorable ratings, on balance, for his handling of the Covid crisis and overall job performance.  From an historical point of view, Murphy has created a magnificent legacy as America’s leading social justice governor, with towering accomplishments in the areas of environmental justice and voting rights protection for New Jerseyans of color.

Ciattarelli totally failed to change any of the pre-existing election dynamics in the two debates.  Murphy will win reelection by at least a high single digit margin and at best an overwhelming landslide if urban turnout is high.

Yet Ciattarelli is not the only election day catastrophe facing the New Jersey Republican Party.  The Republicans are a virtual certainty to lose two state Senate seats they currently hold, in the 2nd and 16th Districts.  In both districts, the incumbent Republican Senators are not seeking reelection.

In the 2nd District, comprised solely of municipalities from Atlantic County, in the battle of the Vinces, incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo is well positioned to defeat former Republican Assemblyman Vince Polistina.   People who have heard or seen Mazzeo do not as a rule confuse him with the genius Albert Einstein or the suave and urbane Jack Kennedy.  He is a person, however, of genuine decency and character, especially in his business affairs, a quality most valued in the era of Trumpian excess.

In the 16th District, consisting mostly of Somerset and Hunterdon County municipalities,  Democrat Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker is an overwhelming favorite to defeat former Republican Congressman Mike Pappas, who is well on his way to earning a reputation as the Harold Stassen of Somerset County – a one time winner, but now a perennial losing candidate.

Nor is the overwhelming advantage of 52-28 that the Democrats currently enjoy in the State Assembly likely to change.  Republicans profess hopes of picking up Assembly seats in the 2nd and 16th Districts and also the 11th District, solely comprised of Monmouth County municipalities .  GOP 2nd District Assembly Candidate and former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, while an underdog, does have an outside chance of scoring an upset.

As for the 11th and 16th Districts, the GOP Assembly hopes are pipe-dreams.  In the 11th District, the Democratic Senate reelection candidate is Vin Gopal, a figure of outstanding political and governmental accomplishment, giving the Democratic Assembly incumbents Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling an extra level of electoral protection.

If the New Jersey Republican Party were a synagogue, Election Day 2021 would be a most appropriate day for Republicans to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish for the deceased, praying for consolation from the Almighty.    On Election Day 2021, however, New Jersey Republicans will be able to take supreme solace in a magnificent source of consolation, Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield, who will defeat incumbent Democratic Senator Dawn Addiego in New Jersey’s 8th Legislative District, consisting largely of Burlington County with four Camden County and one Atlantic County municipalities.

In a nutshell, Jean Stanfield is a state legislator with a compelling biography, flawless character and decency, superb demonstrated competence, a magnificently warmly attractive personality without offensive flamboyance, and a significant departure from the current image New Jersey voters have of Republican candidates.

New Jersey voters will always deservedly hold former Governor Tom Kean in the highest esteem.  Since the days of Tom Kean, however, the image of the Republican candidate has changed, largely due to the less than stellar legacies of other statewide GOP office holders and candidates.  And the contrast between Jean Stanfield and these other GOP so-called luminaries is vivid.

Jean Stanfield is NOT a Republican woman from the country club wine and brie set, pontificating to other Republicans from an outdated playbook as to how GOP recovery in New Jersey and nationally can be effectuated.

Jean Stanfield is NOT a bully, an object of ridicule sitting bovinely on a beach chair, giving the appearance of being Nero while Rome burns.

And on the personal level, there is another aspect of Jean Stanfield that is most endearing.  At the tender age of 64, she is already a GREAT -grandmother of two great-grandchildren!  That is an accomplishment I most admire, as I did not become a grandfather until the age of 65!

Jean Stanfield is indeed the paradigm of what New Jersey Republicans should be seeking in future candidates for governor and US Senator.

In an era where Republican toxicity among African-American voters is at an all- time high, due to the Trumpian racism and bigotry now institutionalized in the GOP, Jean Stanfield is a remarkable exception, a mother of an interracial family.  Her InsiderNJ column, “Our Black Community Has Withstood Trauma for too Long”  was a powerful message that should not just have been adopted as required reading for the New Jersey Republican State Committee.  It deserves to be must reading for all Americans.

Indeed, Jean Stanfield is the personification of the American dream.  The daughter of working-class educators, she worked her way through college and law school and entered politics by being elected sheriff of Burlington County in 2001 and serving in that capacity until 2019.  Her record as sheriff was distinguished by excellent grassroots outreach regarding all Burlington County community service programs.

In 2019, Jean was elected to the Assembly from Burlington County’s 8th District.  She has served on the Assembly Human Services, Education, and Law and Public Safety Committees.

In nearly a quarter of a century of public service, including her tenure as assistant prosecutor in the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. Jean Stanfield has been untouched by scandal.  Her trademark is competent honest service. The word you hear most often in connection with Jean Stanfield in Burlington County is “beloved.”

The incumbent Democrat Senator Dawn Addiego was elected to the Senate as a Republican in 2011, but switched to the Democratic Party in January, 2019.  Retention of her seat is a major priority for the South Jersey George Norcross – led Democrats, due to the power of Senatorial Courtesy.  With Burlington County residents Troy Singleton representing the 7th Legislative District and Addiego representing the 8th, the Democrats have two Senators with Burlington County residency, and accordingly, each having senatorial courtesy plenary power to block all appointments of Burlington County residents that require State Senate approval.  The election of a Republican Burlington resident Senator, Jean Stanfield would substantially reduce the leverage of the Democratic Party over such State appointments.

Accordingly, the Norcross- led South Jersey Democrat leadership cabal has arranged for a torrent of funds in support of the Addiego campaign and a plethora of negative anti-Jean Stanfield commercials.  These commercials have failed to lay a glove on her.

For the Republican Party of South Jersey, a victory in the 8th District Senate Race will be the 2021 political version of the 1942 British victory at El Alamein, a decisive turning point in the Second World War.  And Jean Stanfield makes a most compelling and commanding version of British General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery.

My next column will focus on the ramifications of a Stanfield victory, both statewide and in South Jersey.  As the late Tonight show host Jack Paar used to say, more to come!

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.

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