Let me confess: I really like New Jersey. No joke. My earliest memories are living on Alpha Avenue in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
When I was eight, in the summer of ’68, my family moved. Today I live in Virginia, but just last year I detoured while driving to New York City and darted over to see the old Old Bridge neighborhood.
It was nice. I enjoyed the scenery. And, thankfully, I didn’t have to pay their highest-in-the-nation taxes.
Or contemplate their latest corruption scandal.
I’ve been thinking about New Jersey because, like Virginia, the state holds its governor’s race this year. Further, the gubernatorial race got interesting, since this fellow named Steve Lonegan entered the contest.
I’ve had ample cause to cover Mr. Lonegan in my Common Sense e-letter, because in years past he’s found cause to sue then-Governor Christie Todd Whitman over state government borrowing billions without voter approval. In his hometown, he fought eminent domain abuse, an entrenched problem in the Garden State. And in 2007, Steve beat back two ballot measures — promoted by current Governor Jon Corzine (D) — that would have raised Jersey taxes.
Steve Lonegan is not your average political candidate. He knows what it really takes to create jobs and to run a business, having built and managed retail, homebuilding, and manufacturing businesses. In 1995, fed up with the inability of local government to solve problems, Lonegan challenged the incumbent mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, and won. He served until stepping down voluntarily in 2007.
As mayor, Lonegan proved controversial. He worked to cut spending. He re-organized government by combining city departments. He privatized some municipal services. He took on the public employee unions, even the local police union. He fought outrageous pension benefits and mandated that union contracts exceeding inflation be approved by the voters.