Hirsh Singh in a column appearing Wednesday refers to a civil war within the Republican Party around the June 8 primary where Singh is challenging Jack Ciattarelli.
Broadly speaking, this is something we’ve seen before in GOP gubernatorial primaries – an establishment figure being challenged from the right.
And as Singh mentioned, this does give voters a “clear choice.”
But it’s a choice that can threaten the continued viability of the Republican Party in New Jersey.
Singh critically points out that Ciattarelli is appealing to “RINOs,” a derisive term for those deemed not conservative enough.
In contrast, Singh says he is targeting “MAGA” supporters, who he said helped form the “greatest political movement” in the history of the United States.
Before one gets carried away by such grandiosity, it’s important to look not at politics, but at arithmetic.
Donald Trump got a bit more than 41 percent of the vote in New Jersey in 2016. What happened in 2020? He got a bit more than 41 percent of the vote. In raw numbers, he got more votes in 2020, but that was because turnout was robust – more than 70 percent.
It defies common sense to pay homage to a man who never came close to getting a majority of the votes.
You want more proof. Here it is.
In 2018, Democrats won two congressional seats in northwest New Jersey that Republicans had held for seemingly forever. That same year, Republican Bob Hugin, who was a fine candidate, was beaten easily by Robert Menendez, who was then coming off of a federal indictment. The charges were dropped after a hung jury.
Still, it seems clear that some voters opted for a scandal-plagued Menendez rather than a man who likely would have supported Trump as a senator. Many voters also backed Democrats for Congress after previously supporting Republicans. Hugin did a little better than Trump. He got a bit more than 42 percent of the vote.
All of this electoral success for Dems likely came about because of Trump’s widespread unpopularity in New Jersey.
Look, I understand the passion Trump generates among his supporters. I probably attended about 10 rallies in support of Trump last year, including the one in Wildwood where he appeared himself.
But it’s a mistake to think that passion impacts math – 41 percent is 41 percent. And 42 ain’t much better.
Nonetheless, it’s passion that seems to be fueling those who remain devoted to Trump.
And we’re seeing it down the ballot as well.
Larry Casha and Christina Ramirez, long-time state committee members from Morris County, are being challenged in the GOP primary by Anna and Ali Aydin of Long Valley. A Facebook page features the challengers standing with Singh. Their ballot slogan is Make New Jersey Great Again. No mystery where they stand.
There is a lot of value in contested primaries, but you have to figure the happiest people to see Republicans still fighting over Donald Trump are Democrats.
Keep in mind that Democrats already hold more than a million vote registration advantage over Republicans. So, the GOP most obviously has to “move on” from the last four years.
If there’s a secret cabal out there – a “deep state” if you will – you have to figure it’s Democrats influencing some Republicans to keep on supporting Donald Trump.