I would like to tell Mrs. Estabrook: running a statewide race is not easy and takes a great deal of planning, but if you begin immediately you have my full support as you seek the Republican nomination for the US Senate - in 2012.
If you think you can mount a successful statewide campaign in 2008, however, then all I can say is that I hope you own some stock in Jamestown Associates, because absent a Rudy Giuliani landslide (you're welcome to stake your political career on that if you wish...), a previously unknown political quantity like yourself is simply not going to mount a successful statewide campaign in 20 months - I don't care how many of your millions Larry Weitzner tells you he can waste.
You need to do things differently and break with the traditional approach of multi-millionaire GOP candidates that has failed in recent years. Here's what I would advise you to do beginning immediately to run an effective, dynamic, and compelling statewide candidacy that will result in your being sworn in as a Republican US Senator in January of 2013: (continued...)
- Thank Weitzner for his service and tell him you'll give him a call in 2011 when you're ready to start thinking about TV - because you the only way you're going to win is to build up an unstoppable grassroots game, and Jamestown Associates is not the right match for such a task. Also tell Weitzner that, at that time, you'll be shopping for the best-price media buys around the country, and that if the best he can do is the "Subpoena Salsa", he shouldn't bother.
- On that note, scout out the College Republican class of 2007 and hire a ball of energy who will work full-time on building you a statewide grassroots organization. You can pay this person peanuts to be your point of contact with Republican leaders at the municipal level, who will coordinate your appearances at Republican clubs in all 21 counties starting immediately. You will stump for Republican candidates as a surrogate speaker year in and year out until you seem like a fixture at Republican events.
You need to know off the top of your head the Freeholder candidates in each county, and you need to walk door-to-door with them. Ditto for Republican municipal candidates in key towns/districts that could swing either way. Start this summer by getting personally involved with campaigns in Assembly districts 1, 2, 12, and 38. Activists need to know you and believe in their hearts that you have labored for the Republican Party if they are going to be compelled to work for you when you finally do announce your candidacy. And for heaven's sake, do NOT write any more checks to Democrat candidates like Bob Menendez!
- Immediately purchase subscriptions to Human Events, The American Conservative, Chronicles, and National Review. Read each issue in detail and quote from them regularly, so that you don't have another "D'Oh!" moment when a journalist asks you about touchy and crucial subjects like Iraq. ("no comment"...Anne, are you serious?)
- Create a Political Action Committee devoted to rebuilding the Republican Party in the urban areas of New Jersey, with a special focus on recruiting Latino candidates. Doug Forrester attempted this approach with his PAC called "Liberty and Prosperity for All", but he didn't have enough time to develop the concept or make its impact felt. You need to spend the next 4 years changing the playing field, because currently, 30% of the residents of New Jersey live in areas where the Republican Party is essentially non-existent.
People often think they can win a statewide race like Jon Corzine did - by buying the party infrastructure. Sounds great, but the difference is that the Democrats actually had an infrastructure to buy! We, sadly, do not. So you need to autonomously sponsor the rebuilding of the Republican Party in New Jersey's cities and make the GOP viable in Latino neighborhoods. It will be hard work and it will be expensive, and if you start yesterday, we might have a machine up-and-running in 5 years.
- Call each and every GOP County Chair with an invitation for a get-to-know lunch. It's not good when the likes of Morris County Chairman John Sette say that they don't even know who you are, and Larry Weitzner is returning phone calls on your behalf. You need the buy-in of these key power brokers into your 5-year plan as well as their blessing to structure your campaign around a county-by-county party building effort led by your PAC. The County Chairs need to respect your grasp of strategy and fear your political prowess, even if they don't agree with you or like your profile. They need to consider you as a serious candidate on a mission to WIN, not just a cash machine that they can use and abuse until you lose.
- Create a website and a blog that basically takes on the responsibility that the newspapers have largely shirked - informing the public about how NJ government at the State and County levels is robbing them blind. A bit like my blog, statewide, with less sarcasm, and a big budget that will allow you to blast emails to tens of thousands of registered voters, plus direct mail to drive web traffic amongst 4/4 general election Republican and Undeclared voters under the age of 40 to start, expanding upwards.
You could do this in a non-partisan manner designed to get your name and essentially a sound Republican platform in front of the eyes of any citizen who cares to discover. If your message is concise and well-packaged and locally customized, people will spread the word. You need to be at the crest of the technology wave as far as political activism goes - that will be the edge that pushes you over the top in 2012. Campaigns are different today than they were 5 years ago (the impact of blogs as one example, YouTube as another - just ask Tom Kean, Jr. about that) and they will be different in 5 years when you will be ready to run.
On the back of this, become a regularly published editorial writer in all of NJ's dailies, and have your CR staffer send letters to the editor to every weekly local paper in the state ad nauseum. When you are ready to launch your candidacy, lots and lots of people will know you and trust you.
- Make sure everybody sees you as extremely smart, professional, technocratic, and well-informed, but at the same time always be a regular gal. You are running in New Jersey, the home state of Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Sinatra. March in all the ethnic parades. Eat at little Mexican joints in Passaic and know exactly which booth on each boardwalk down the shore makes the best funnel cakes, for example. Memorize the starting lineups for every regional professional sports team.
As far as 2008 goes, yes, there is the possibility that Rudy Giuliani gets the nomination and his coattails in New Jersey will overcome Frank Lautenberg, but those odds are better suited to previously elected and respected Republicans like Bill Baroni, Joe Pennacchio, or Michael Doherty. Given the short time frame, however, I think the pre-existing name recognition of former Yankees/Mets pitcher Al Leiter makes him a very intriguing candidate for statewide office in 2008.