SCHOOLEYS MOUNTAIN – Hirsh Singh says he’s winning.
“We’re in the lead without any establishment support,” he proclaimed Friday night to about 100 supporters gathered around a park pavilion in this western corner of Morris County.
Whether Singh is actually “in the lead” in his primary race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is debatable. There have been no recent public polls.
But he’s right about no establishment support.
“The Republican establishment is fully united behind never-Trumper Jack Ciattarelli,” he said. “Never-Trumper Jack Ciattarelli.” The crowd booed Ciattarelli.
Singh’s appeal is quite direct.
He embraces the movement Donald Trump created in 2016 and is determined to continue it. He sees his candidacy as a nationwide test of sorts of the viability of the Trump message.
It’s a nationwide focus, because as Singh pointed out, New Jersey is only one of two states having a major election this off year.
He says a win for him on June 8 will send “a loud resounding message” to Republicans across the nation that GOP candidates in next year’s midterm elections must be “America First,” or Trump, candidates. “We are taking our home, our country, our state back,” he proclaimed.
Rhetoric is fine, but Trump got about 41 percent of the vote in New Jersey in both 2016 and 2020. That is not a winning number.
Singh spun the math this way.
He said Trump got 1.9 million votes last year, but Murphy got only 1.2 million votes in winning election in 2017. So this is going to be easy – if anything close to 1.9 million Republicans vote again, the GOP will win.
The obvious flaw here is that last year was a record turnout that probably will not be duplicated. What’s more, Joe Biden got 2.6 million votes last year. So what if Democrats vote like that again?
On issues Singh said the state budget of $45 billion is really $80 billion when you include how much New Jersey spends on universities. That’s meant to shock people, but left unsaid is what Singh would like to do about it. He speaks generally about controlling government spending and of unspecified “corruption.” but is most passionate about such right-wing causes as uncompromising devotion to the Second Amendment and getting tough on those here illegally.
School funding has been a bedeviling issue in New Jersey for decades. It’s a complicated issue probably best left alone at a campaign rally, but Singh – as others are wont to do – offered a pretty simplistic comparison to demonstrate the need for reform.
He compared state school aid and educational proficiency in Asbury Park to that in Margate.
Both locales are on the Atlantic Ocean, but the similarities end there.
Census data from 2019 tells us that the poverty rate in Asbury Park is five times what it is in affluent Margate. Likewise, per capita income in Margate is about $24,000 higher according to the same data. This is not exactly a worthwhile comparison.
Then again, Singh’s campaign is about national themes and symbols more than it is arcane policy issues.
For instance, he spoke of a cultural battle between American values and “far left extremism.” And that is how he sees this election.