LAFAYETTE – Republicans talk a lot about people fleeing New Jersey for lower-cost states.
Bill Spadea has another idea.
“It’s time for us to stay and kick them out,” Spadea told supporters of LD-24 Assembly candidates Josh Aikens and Jason Sarnoski at a Monday evening reception at a local country club.
Just who are some of the folks on Spadea’s eviction list?
He mentioned the NJEA, or teachers’ union, some school boards and those who practice or advocate for “woke ” culture.
It was no mystery why schools and education came up. Talk about the issue du jour.
Just a few miles to the south, two school-related lawsuits are brewing.
One involves a high school librarian in Roxbury suing four parents critical of 11 library books for defamation.
The other centers on the state suing the Hanover school board for a new policy compelling staff to inform parents if it finds students are gay or talking about transitioning or gender identity.
Both issues have galvanized Republicans to defend the Roxbury parents in one case and the Hanover board in the other.
Spadea, the morning radio host on 101.5 and a possible gubernatorial candidate, has been making the rounds this primary season endorsing candidates of his liking. He was in Morristown a few weeks ago to hype state and local candidates running “off the line.”
Is it wise of him – a possible statewide candidate himself – to pick sides in nasty local battles?
Spadea’s response was that he “loves primaries,” because they vet candidates and can ensure the party runs its best in November.
In LD-24, which covers Sussex and parts of Morris and Warren counties, the team of Aikens and Sarnoski is being challenged primarily by the duo of Mike Inganamort, the mayor of Chester Township, and Dawn Fantasia, a Sussex commissioner.
Aikens and Sarnoski contend they are the real conservatives in the race and Monday’s event, which drew about 100 people, was billed as a conservative rally.
Another speaker from the same philosophical corner as Spadea was Phil Rizzo, who ran for governor in 2021 and congress in CD-7 last year. He lost each year in the primary.
Both offered an anti-GOP establishment message.
Rizzo faulted Republicans for trying to reach out to moderates, saying the party must stay true to its core supporters, whom he described as pro-life, pro-gun and pro-Trump. After all, he said, if Republican moderates could win, John McCain and Mitt Romney would have been elected president. Fair point, but one can’t forget that Donald Trump got only about 42 percent of the vote in the state in both 2016 and 2020.
Rizzo said he had a three-hour meeting with Jack Ciattarelli, the 2021 GOP candidate for governor, and offered his help in that year’s campaign. But, alas, Ciattarelli never called.
A few minutes earlier, Spadea said that Republicans in 2021 ran a campaign that they tried to lose.
If that was the case, they succeeded. But what was left unsaid was that Ciattarelli gave Phil Murphy quite the scare, losing by only three points or so.
How does this relate to LD-24?
One point was the anti-establishment message. Inganamort and Fantasia, who are also running with unopposed senate candidate Parker Space, have been endorsed by Morris County Republicans.
The other point was that Aikens and Sarnoski are the type of strong conservatives who will not compromise important principles.
And sort of right on cue, Aikens told the crowd:
“We’re voting for the flag, not the pride flag.”