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.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.