Jersey City mayor yields unity
By Nicholas Sanchez
By and large, Republicans are hardly more pathetic than when they try
to do "outreach" to minorities and working-class citizens. Their
efforts usually come off as perfunctory, and rarely do they yield any
political fruit for the Grand Old Party.
So, while Bush's attempt to reach out to minorities and working-class
types has been admirable (and far more thorough than any other national
Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan), it has hardly been anything
but successful. Which means that Republicans need to look elsewhere to
find someone who can show them how to appeal to these people who seem
to have a congenital aversion to the Republican Party.
Hardly a hotbed of conservatism, Jersey City is a working class, Catholic city that is two-thirds minority. Which is why the 1993 election of Schundler - who is a pro-life, Harvard-educated investment banker, and a WASP to boot - flabbergasted the professional political handicappers. He was the first Republican to be elected as Mayor of Jersey City since World War I. And he not only won, but he won big. Running for his first full term, he managed to get 68 per cent of the vote. He was later re-elected by a similar margin.
Oh, and did I mention that he ran as a conservative? Which prompts the question: How did he do it?
When I posed this question to him a few weeks ago at a gathering of conservatives in Florida, he said quite plainly that he did it by going into the black communities and talking about school vouchers. He did it by going into the Hispanic communities and talking about tax-cuts and how they would affect individual families. To be succinct, he did it by going into communities that Republicans generally don't go to, and having a frank conversation with individuals, relating to them how his policies would change their lives.
What a concept. And even more exciting is that his policies worked.
Since being elected mayor, Bret Schundler reduced city spending and lowered taxes. He encouraged new businesses to come to Jersey City. As a result, Jersey City has in recent years created more new jobs than have been created in New Jersey's five other largest cities. More and more families are moving to Jersey City instead of out of it.
A devout Christian, Schundler fought for the rights of all of Jersey City's religious citizens, standing up to left-wing activists who objected to the public display of religious symbols (like the menorah). He took them to court and won. And now he wants to do for the state of New Jersey what he has done on the local level.
By tapping Christine Todd Whitman, the epitome of the Northeast Republican establishment, to head the Environmental Protection Agency, George W. Bush has done two things: one, he has paid a political debt to Whitman, who was one of his most vocal supporters during the past election. And two, he has removed one of the most liberal Republican governors from an important State House. Which is why Schundler now has the option of running for Governor. Of course, he has to win the primary first.
Because of his sincere conservative beliefs, the New Jersey state GOP Party is not too keen on Schundler's candidacy. However, he has demonstrated now for eight years that he is more than capable of bringing different people together to win a supermajority of the United States' 67th largest city. In fact, by pulling off what he has in a city that is as diverse as Jersey City, he has really presented a model for the Republican Party as a whole.
To find a leader who can expand the Party without diluting its principles, I am going to offer a piece of advice to the Republican Party that I never thought I would: Go East, young men.
Nicholas Sanchez is the Free Congress Foundation's Director of Development.
Visit Schundler's gubernatorial web site at http://www.bret2001.com/
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