Friday, July 31, 2015

New Jersey Extremist Scott Garrett Finds His Base Turning On Him


NJ-05 sits on the entire northern border of New Jersey with New York, from the Hudson River in the east to just outside of Port Jervis in the west, and the entire northwestern border with Pennsylvania from Milford through the Delaware Water Gap and beyond my old home in Stroudsburg. It's an affluent R+4 district in blue New Jersey. Over 70% of the population is in northern Bergen County's suburbs and towns like Paramus, Hackensack, Teaneck, Mahwah and Lodi. The Sopranos was set there and Lodi was the location of the Bada Bing strip club. Politically, this is Chris Christie country although Sen. Bob Menendez won the district with 51% last time he ran. McCain won the district in 2008, 51-48% and Romney won in 2012, 52-49%. The congressman from the area, Scott Garrett, is the most extreme right congressman from New Jersey-- and the entire northeast United States-- since he was first elected in 2002. He was reelected in 2014 with 55.7% against political novice Roy Cho and in 2012 he won with 55.0% against Adam Gussen, Deputy Mayor of Teaneck. Cho spent $1,251,518 to Garrett's $2,245,456 and Gussen spent $51,444 to Garrett's $1,105,177. Neither Democrat was backed by the DCCC, which hasn't gone up against Garrett since giving some minor help to Dennis Shulman (the blind rabbi) in 2008.

The source of Garrett's power and campaign money stems from his position on the House Financial Services Committee, where he is widely considered a prime spokesperson for Wall Street banksters. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises he has been in a position to make sure Wall Street priorities become Republican policy, just the way he has worked for Vegas mobster Sheldon Adelson, sponsoring a federal prohibition of online poker and for Big Oil, making himself a pariah among New Jersey Republicans by being the only member of the New Jersey delegation to vote for oil and gas drilling off the state's coast and the only member to vote against restrictions on price gouging by oil companies. He is probably the most right-wing Member of Congress from New Jersey in history but Wall Street has backed him to the hilt-- until now.

Last cycle the Finance sector (Wall Street) only paid out legalistic bribes of a million dollars or more to 10 current Members of the House who were not running for Senate seats. Garrett was one of them, taking $1,171,579, even more than Wall Street's pet Democrat, Patrick Murphy, who gobbled up $1,127,650 in bribes. since Garrett's first congressional election Wall Street has given him $4,347,936, nearly as much as their House darlings Paul Ryan ($4,936,303) and Pete Sessions ($4,740,807). But many on Wall Street have now had it with Garrett's extremism and have decided to cut him off.

Garrett, likely to be a target of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's jihad against extremists, declared two months ago that he would stop paying dues to the NRCC for not being anti-gay enough. He'd voted against reelecting Boehner to the Speaker's job. Boehner and his team take it as part of the right-wing rebellion against his authority. Boehner told Financial Services Committee chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) to crack the whip on Garrett and Garrett responded that "his procedural vote against leadership was a matter of conscience. Then he stunned the room with this explanation: He had not supported the NRCC in the past, he said, because it actively recruited gay candidates and supported homosexuals in primaries." This flipped out North Carolina closet queen Patrick McHenry, a junior member of leadership, who led the NRCC’s candidate recruitment during the 2014 election cycle and said that Richard Tisei, a gay Republican whom the NRCC supported, was "equally homosexual" when Garrett donated directly to him in 2012.
The northern New Jersey Republican has not yet paid his dues to the NRCC. He has a serious opponent this cycle. Josh Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, raised $412,000 last quarter and has almost $600,000 in the bank. NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon declined to say whether the campaign arm would get involved in that-- or any-- race.

"I’m not going to talk about who we’re going to support and who we’re not going to support anywhere across the line, because hopefully we don’t have to come into races like that," Walden said of Garrett’s race. "He’s been able to raise a lot of money, he’s got a lot of money in the bank-- close to $3 million. My preference is we have members who pay their dues in full."
But, as Walden well knows, new Wall Street money isn't going to be as available to him as it has in the past-- and will be available to conservaDem Josh Gottheimer who one New Jersey pundit termed "a conservative Jew who loves Wall Street more than lox." He's getting huge help from "top veterans of the Clinton and Obama administrations, over $219,000 in March alone. Obama and Clinton big-wigs like Patti Solis Doyle, Mack McLarty, who was President Clinton’s chief of staff; Julius Genachowski, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; Sandy Berger, former national security adviser to Clinton; Paul Begala, Clinton political strategist and media commentator; and Jennifer Palmieri, communications director of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, are helping him in his bid to oust the hated Garrett.
The outpouring of support for a challenger is unprecedented this early in the campaign cycle in the Republican-leaning 5th District, a place Democrats in North Jersey have repeatedly said they could win if a candidate could raise enough money to define Garrett on New York television.

Gottheimer is a North Caldwell native who moved back to North Jersey with his family three years ago. A corporate strategist for Microsoft, he previously worked for the FCC and on the presidential campaigns of John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2008.

“I believe pretty deeply we need to bring people back to Washington who want to work and get things done,” Gottheimer said. “Like most people, I’m frustrated with the extremism from the wings of the parties.”
Politico pointed out that "according to FEC filings, Gottheimer already has raised $150K from Wall Street execs including Tom Nides (MS), Peter Scher (JOM), Blair Effron (Centerview), Orin Kramer (Provident), Phil Murphy (ex-GS), Marc Lasry (Avenue) and Jake Siewert (Goldman)."

Bloomberg: "Representative Scott Garrett, who heads an influential House subcommittee overseeing the U.S. capital markets, is facing a revolt by corporate and Wall Street donors after he reportedly made anti-gay remarks at a private meeting of Republican lawmakers. ... Earlier this month, in what financial lobbyists said was a sign of things to come, the Big 4 accounting firms and their trade association abruptly canceled a fundraising event for the New Jersey Republican.

"In addition, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has decided to stop making political action committee donations to Garrett ... Other firms are likely to follow suit, and some in the industry have debated whether to take a more drastic step and ask for their contributions back from Garrett, said the people, who asked for anonymity so as to not antagonize a lawmaker who oversees their industry." Couldn't happen to a more deserving sociopath!

Meanwhile, other New Jersey Republicans, as usual, are embarrassed by Garrett's deranged extremism. Mainstream conservative Leonard Lance: "I am not going to criticize Scott Garrett because I do not know what he said,” said Lance. “I, however, disagree with anyone who rejects Ronald Reagan’s 'Big Tent' philosophy of an inclusive Republican Party. We should welcome into the Tent all people who believe in Republican ideals and principles of fiscal responsibility regardless of their race, religion, creed, national origin, gender or sexual identity. That has always been my position and will continue to be so."

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