Friday, July 17, 2015

Can Steve Israel Save Scott Garrett's Seat For Their Wall Street Masters Again?


New Jersey has 12 congressional seats and, largely due to skillful deals between craven Jersey political bosses, half are held by Democrats and half by Republicans. Seems odd in a state that didn't just give Obama a 58-41% win in 2012 and a 57% to 42% win in 2008 but had gone for Kerry and Gore against Bush and for Bill Clinton against both Bob Dole in 1996 and George H.W. Bush in 1992. Nevertheless, Boss Norcross has seen to it that the parties have come off with an equal number of seats. 

Of the 6 New Jersey Republicans, 5 could be classified as relatively mainstream conservatives: Frank LoBiondo, Tom McArthur, Christopher Smith, Leonard Lance, and Rodney Frelinghuysen. One, however, Scott Garrett, is a radical right ideologue and extremist better suited to representing a crackpot district in exurban Texas or Oklahoma than one in northern and western New Jersey. Garrett is the most extreme Member of Congress in the Northeast and often finds himself alone voting against the direct interests of his own constituents while the other 11 New Jersey congressmembers (there's one woman) of both parties are voting for New Jersey interests.

Garrett may vote like a Confederate secessionist but there is never any doubt where his principal loyalty lies: Wall Street. A subcommittee chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Garrett has accepted more legalistic bribes from Wall Street than almost anyone else in the history of Congress-- $1,171,579 for the 2014 cycle alone, $1,223,813, for the 2012 cycle... the kind of money that only the criminally minded accept from the banksters while doing their bidding hidden away in a murky subcommittee.

Yesterday, local New Jersey media reported on a long-simmering feud between Garrett and his extremism and the more mainstream conservatism of the House Party leadership.
Rep. Scott Garrett told colleagues at a private House committee leadership meeting last week that he would not contribute to the political arm of the Republican caucus because it recruits and supports gay candidates, according to a report published Thursday by Politico.

The report, attributed to multiple sources in the room, said Garrett made the comments at a meeting of Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee. At the meeting, chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that subcommittee  chairmen are expected to pay “dues” to the National Republican Congressional Committee and side with House leadership on procedural votes.

Garrett, the chairman of the capital markets and government-sponsored enterprises subcommittee since 2011, has often broken with the leadership on procedural votes and even voted against re-electing Ohio Rep. John Boehner as speaker in January.

According to the Politico report, Garrett said that procedural votes should be a matter of conscience, and that he would not support the NRCC because of its support for gay candidates. Several members of the committee reacted angrily to his comment, according to the report, and said the committee did not back candidates in primaries or care about their sexual orientation.

Garrett’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Garrett is a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of Republicans that often disagrees with Boehner’s team on the right approach to policy. Boehner began to crack down on members who bucked the leadership last month, and Politico reported at that time that Garrett had survived an effort to strip him of his chairmanship.

When asked last month by The Record if he would begin contributing to the NRCC, Garrett said, “I help out the team substantially by helping out other members.”

Politico’s story on Thursday said Garrett had agreed to the NRCC’s building fund and recount efforts, but not to the committee directly.

Garrett’s fund-raising increased dramatically after he became the chairman of a subcommittee that regulates Wall Street policy. A report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday showed Garrett had nearly $2.2 million in his account on June 30 after raising $224,000 during the second quarter of this year.

He may face his best-funded challenger ever, however, next year. Josh Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, raised $412,000 during the quarter and had $586,000 in his account on June 30.
Best-funded? OK, that's something... but the DCCC hasn't treated Garrett as a serious target, ever. He's been protected by another Wall Street crony, Steve Israel, who is likely to make sure Garrett is reelected once again, even if Israel wears a shiny Gottheimer lapel pin.

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