Nothing clarifies the mind of politicians like a fear of defeat at the ballot box. And nothing stokes such a fear more than watching an upset happen in a supposedly blue state. So with all the bitter arguments inside the conservative movement and Republican Party over health care and budget strategy, I offer a simple plea for unity of purpose around a common cause: elect Steve Lonegan to the United States Senate in New Jersey on Wednesday, October 16.
Send a conservative who has promised to repeal Obamacare, cut spending, cut taxes, and limit regulation to the Senate from New Jersey and watch every 2014 Senate Democrat run scared toward any potential compromises that could save their Senate careers. There is no bigger game changer. And there is no better leader for these fights than Steve Lonegan.
At 14, Lonegan was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that would leave him completely blind by age 30. At 16 his father died in an accident at work, his mother lost her home and she, Steve, and his younger brother moved in with their grandparents in a two-family house in Ridgefield Park. In a recent interview Steve said: “When you’re a kid and you have a great family, you don’t have to have money to think you’re rich. We thought we were millionaires. Little did we know we had no money.”
His Italian grandparents taught him immigrant values of hard work and thrift. And though social workers told him to live on government assistance and take up basket weaving, Lonegan went to business school and then suffered rejections from over 100 corporations before going to work at a kitchen cabinet salesroom. To get that job, he volunteered to work two weeks free of charge. Several years later, the company was going out of business and the owner suggested Steve buy the company. Steve and his wife Lorraine struggled for years but eventually grew the company to be the largest kitchen cabinet business in the tri-state area, with their own factory in Paterson and over a hundred employees. They also raised two beautiful daughters.
Steve’s powerful message, from his personal experience, speaks to the foundation of the American Dream: “I went from being a Social Security Disability recipient to being a successful businessman, not because of a government program but because of the free market economy, because of an opportunity given by business not government. That’s what America is all about.”
He went on to a remarkably successful career fighting for taxpayers, including 12 years as mayor of Bogota, where he kept the growth of total taxes under the rate of inflation and successfully challenged government unions to contain labor costs.
Lonegan also won a legal fight requiring state agency bonds issued without voter approval to carry a disclaimer making clear they are not backed by taxpayers. He led the successful grassroots fight to stop Governor Jon Corzine’s massive $38 billion toll hike scheme, led the opposition to statewide ballot questions to raise debt and taxes in 2007 that were the first ballot questions in the state to fail in nearly two decades, and convinced Governor Christie to end New Jersey’s cap-and-trade energy taxes via participation in RGGI.
Lonegan’s opponent is a corrupt big city mayor with a shameful habit of exaggerating and even inventing personal stories to glorify himself. Under Cory Booker, who laid off over 167 police officers, violent crime in Newark is now higher than it was when he took office. Despite receiving 43 percent of corporate welfare subsidies financed by suburban taxpayers under the Urban Transit Hub program, Newark unemployment has spiked from 8.5 percent to over 14 percent on his watch. And Booker had to be sued by the ACLU to reveal where the $100 million gift from Mark Zuckerberg to Newark schools went, and it turned out not a penny ended up in classrooms.
Yet despite being surrounded by all that failure, Booker continues to believe that the solution to every problem is another government program.
Steve Lonegan knows better. He knows that freedom leads to prosperity. And nothing would straighten Washington out faster than electing Steve Lonegan to the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Kerpen is the president of American Commitment and the author of “Democracy Denied.” Kerpen can be reached at email@example.com.