Skip to comments.Why Doug Forrester, R-NJ, LOST and LOST Badly
Posted on 11/07/2002 4:19:30 PM PST by Coleus
WHY FORRESTER LOST - AND LOST BADLY
Liberal experts attempt to alibi Doug Forresters humiliating defeat saying it was because he was too conservative even though across the nation, conservatives like Norm Coleman, Jim Talent, Saxby Chambliss, Wayne Allard and of course Scott Garrett won unexpected or larger than expected victories.
Forrester lost badly because he never connected with New Jerseys largest group of swing voters - Reagan Democrats - conservative Catholics who live along Routes 3, 17, 46 and the Parkway. And Republicans will continue to lose as long as they believe that being pro-abortion is the only way to win these voters.
Instead, judging by the campaigns and candidates Republicans have nominated over the past decade, one would think that the swing voter in New Jersey is a liberal woman whose can trace her ancestry to the Mayflower. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
No Republican has won a vote majority in this state since George Bush got 55 percent against Michael Dukakis in 1988. And in that time, conservative Catholic towns like Secaucus, Bloomfield, Lyndhurst and Clifton have gone from producing 3-2 Republican majorities in statewide elections to 3-2 Democratic majorities.
Now if you listen to the experts who have blown election after election in this state, you would think that the way to bring back Republican victories in these towns is for Republicans to move even farther to the left. To the contrary, for Republicans to win in politically marginal areas like New Jersey, they must move back to the conservative base, embrace conservative issues - not run from them - and energize the base. Consider this.
1. While Republicans around the country were making the case for GOP Senate control by attacking liberal judges, Doug Forrester actually said he would vote against conservative judges supported by President Bush - and never once attacked Lautenberg for supporting a host of leftist jurists, including those who took under God out of the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Republican Party bosses and academic experts like David Rebovich say that conservative pro-Life voters have no place to go and therefore can be ignored by Republicans. But many pro-Life voters are Democrats (ditto for gun owners). Forrester, ignoring reality, got into a well-publicized spat with New Jersey Right to Life and saw his lead among pro-Life voters drop from 56-32 to 46-38 in two weeks, without any increase among pro-abortion voters. No Republican should win less than 80 percent of the pro-Life vote. If Forrester had won 80 percent of the pro-Life vote, he would be Senator-Elect today.
3. No one has yet explained how right-wing extremist Scott Garrett won a higher percentage than Forrester in the allegedly socially moderate 5th Congressional District. And dont look for the answer in the press or from Dr. Rebovich, who always seems to be wrong - theyre still in shock.
4. Inexplicably, Forrester not once referred to Lautenberg as a liberal (neither did Haytaian in 1994 - another losing race in spite of a massive national GOP trend), even though the former and future Senator had among the highest liberal ratings in the Senate - always in the 95-100 percent range. Polling indicates that conservatives outnumber liberals in New Jersey by 2-1. But the Forrester campaign seems to have foolishly believed those numbers were reversed and that they, in fact, were really running in Greenwich Village.
5. Our polling in a variety of towns indicated a carefully targeted Democratic campaign to identify Forrester as a right-wing conservative among liberals. Forresters defensive response was to tell conservatives that he was in fact a liberal, rather than to tell conservatives that Lautenberg was one. If youre going to be attacked as a conservative, you might as well get the upside. And that didnt happen because Forrester was more afraid of being attacked than energizing the conservative Republican base that, outside of the 5th CD, stayed home.
6. Forrester was the only Senate candidate targeted for defeat by Sarah Brady who lost - coincidentally also the only one who never filled out an NRA questionnaire and therefore was not on the little orange postcard that the NRA sent out in other states (or the one sent promoting Scott Garrett).
7. Forrester focused his message on integrity (whatever that means - we are dealing with politicians here) and the debate on debates. By highlighting Lautenbergs supposedly being afraid to debate they only lowered expectations. When Lautenberg held his own (all he had to do was not drool on TV) Forrester lost any remaining rationale for his candidacy.
8. The centerpiece of the post-Torricelli campaign was an endorsement by Uncle Tom Kean, who has not endorsed a winning candidate in a competitive race since 1985 (unless you count Bill Clinton in 1996 or Rush Holt in 1998). The Forrester campaign should have looked at Keans record back in 1987 at the height of his popularity when he endorsed 10 GOP State Senate candidates in tight races and all 10 lost (he also un-endorsed 3 GOP Senators, all of whom won).
Republicans continue to lose because of the leftward drift, not in spite of it. And an even bigger problem is the perception that the party is anti-Catholic. Running Republicans who continue to emphasize how pro-abortion they are doesnt help. Even non-pro-Life Catholics perceive pro-choice Republicans as having latent anti-Catholic prejudices. The election returns back that up.
Its been 30 years since Republicans ran a Roman Catholic in a state that is majority Catholic - thats just dumb. And the drop in GOP percentages is not just a New Jersey problem - with pro-choice Republicans at the helm, Republicans have taken a major nosedive in Catholic suburbs from Boston to St. Paul in the last decade. And this will continue as long as the party is controlled by a small group of elitist rich (and of course non-Catholic) liberals who fit the stereotype of what Democrats say Republicans are.
With another great Republican election night passing New Jersey by, maybe it is time for New Jersey Republicans to follow the rest of the nations lead rather than defy it and move back to the right. Again and again we are told that some liberal Republican is the new Golden Boy, only to see them lose on Election Day. Its time for a change and the first step should be a total housecleaning at the Republican State Committee, starting with Joe Kyrillos.
Rick Shaftan (who is not Catholic) is a political consultant for conservatives with the guts to win. The president of Neighborhood Research, a polling company and Mountaintop Media, which produces TV, radio and direct mail, his clients were 12-0 on Tuesday, with one race still in doubt. Among his successful clients this year were conservative Democrat Russ Pitman, who defeated 20-year liberal Republican incumbent Len Kaiser for North Arlington Mayor, conservative freshman Virginia Republican State Senator Ken Cuccinelli, and the Coalition Against the Tax Referendum which defeated a proposed Northern Virginia Sales Tax increase by a 55-45 margin.
Based on the article, however, it appears that conservatives didn't seem to care a whole lot about Forrester after the Torch was gone. Evidently he wasn't a very inspiring candidate. He sounds kind of RINOish, actually.
(Anyone could have beaten Torch. And it really does sound like a better candidate would have beaten a liberal old crank like Lautenberg. After all, Coleman beat Mondale.
Hopefully, we Republicans have learned something here. Manifestly, the NJ Republican Party should not nominate guys like Forrester in the future. [Come to think of it, the California guys need to do a better job in the primaries, too. Simon got close, but a better candidate would have creamed Gray Davis.])
I'm just a dumb ole Texas boy, but Forrester sounded so scripted that he came across as a human encyclopedia, regurgitating facts but with no emotion.
I'm not surprised he wasn't able to connect with New Jersey voters. He reminds me of my nerdy cousin, who knows everything except how to talk to his kids when they come to him with a problem.
They call me or my wife, because they know we'll listen and not try to "fix" their problem.
It would have helped if Forrester had been pro-life; it would have helped even more if he had exhibited some warmth as a human being.
Maybe they should have pulled Forrester out of the ran with 4 days to go and put in Rudy Guiliani? Too, late for that....not a resident of New Jersey? What should THAT matter? After all..Lousenberg was allowed to be a candidate when THE LAW said he couldn't. What's good for the goose.....