North Jersey residents spoke this past week of who they want to lead their communities. And that message was loud and clear: they want leaders who work together for America.
Let’s start with there is no one ideology that won on Tuesday. There was no great Red Wave; conversely there were enough losses by Democrats that it appears they will lose the House. In New Jersey, Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill easily beat their GOP opponents. But Rep. Tom Malinowski was defeated by Tom Kean, Jr. (who we will come back to) to show that there is a significant number of Americans with opposing views to the current party in power.
Gottheimer and Sherrill increased their winning margins this year and it is because of the type of politicians they are—Democrats willing to push for policies that are rooted in common sense and to call out the extremists of both parties.
Gottheimer, whose profile grew in the last term as he was able to construct deals that could pass both the House and Senate that provide COVID relief as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, will undoubtedly play an even bigger role the next two years. Through the Problem Solvers Caucus which he co-chairs, this bipartisan group will have greater sway with the House so evenly divided no matter if the gavel rests in a Republican or Democrats hand.
Sherrill’s campaign was front and center with two key issues that Americans voted on this year: abortion and democracy. The former Navy vet rightly explained that the Supreme Court in Dobbs was the first step in denying women their rights over their own bodies and eventually a step to a nationwide ban that a significant majority of voters are against.
The issue about democracy was a stand in for America’s feeling about Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans. There was never a widespread conspiracy in voter fraud in 2020 and those who pushed The Big Lie were voted against except in the deepest of red parts of the U.S.
Which brings us back to Kean Jr. His father’s politics represents a Republican ethos that is not in control of its party anymore. Much like Sherrill, who never voted for Rep. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, we hope that Kean Jr. considers all options when it comes to leadership.
But more importantly, Kean Jr. has a real opportunity to be a leader to bring his party back to its roots and away from the current path of conspiracists and extremists. We want him, from a Republican perspective, to reach across the aisle to work on inflation, immigration, cutting spending and taxes, and energy independence that he talked about during the debates.
On final thought: We truly believe the lack of strong leadership denouncing the attack on Paul Pelosi was significant for moderate, centrist voters in their inability to win more races. Trump called Speaker Pelosi “an animal” just days after her husband was released from the hospital for a cracked skull caused by being beaten with a hammer by his attacker.
Numerous conservative pundits and the former President himself either made jokes or questioned if the attack was not staged. This is the kind of misinformation that we hope Kean stands up against, for his party and the country.
In the end, centrist voters reasserted themselves for a second election in a row. We hope Kean Jr.’s win is a beginning of the Republicans returning to its roots across the U.S. that once considered his father a Presidential candidate—seeing conservative Republicans like Larry Hogan and Pat Toomey saying it is time to move on from Trump’s leadership in their party gives that even more oxygen.
We did not support Kean Jr this election, but we want him to succeed because America is built on a democracy that needs two strong parties working together for what is best for its citizenry.
We leave you with the words of the conservative writer David Frum:
“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is. Those who … despise half of America will not be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will not be entrusted with its future.”
May those serving from your local town hall to the upper echelon of Washington use those words as a road map going forward.