Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Is There A Way This CAN Be Done? Well, YES!

Trust your instincts.
Shock and surprise.
Set and dominate the agenda.
Don't just break the rules, remake the rules.
Force your opponent to play on your terms.
This is how Donald Trump scored the greatest upset in modern American political history. This is how, against all odds and despite an avalanche of polls saying otherwise, he became the 45th President of the United States.

Now, we know that New Jersey's Lieutenant Governor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno is not a great fan of Donald Trump. She didn't support him in the presidential primaries and she remained wary of Trump right on through last year's presidential campaign.
But, in her present situation, against a zillionaire candidate with a big war chest and yooge poll numbers, Guadagno might be well advised to rapidly rip some pages out of the Trump playbook. Because she needs to do something, and do it now, to shake up this race.

Guadagno has this much going for her: 
1) She's likable, She can be warm and engaging when she opens up and interacts with people, naturally and informally. Phil Murphy, on the other hand, often seems somewhat awkward, geeky and hopelessly toothy.
2) She's feisty. A former county sheriff, Guadagno has the makings of a non-nonsense scrapper. She needs to show more of this. 
3) New Jersey voters are notorious for making up their minds about these things at the last minute. Politically, in this kind of election, Jersey is a late-breaking state.
4) One-third of the voters say they're still undecided. Guadagno has to find a way to energize her base without turning off the fence-sitters -- no small feat.
5) She's a woman. He's just another rich white man. Shouldn't that appeal to New Jersey voters?

What should Kim Guadagno do?
Here are some quick tips:
  • Show toughness without being shrill. This is often difficult for a woman candidate. Even Hillary couldn't crack this nut. I suggest watching some tapes of Margaret Thatcher. The Iron Lady nailed it. Lower your voice, Speak slowly and with obvious determination. Use strategic inflection. Make the words linger. 
  • Hit Murphy where it hurts. He looks and acts like a bean counter. But he lives in a mansion and he's swimming in dough. He was born and raised in the People's Republic of Massachusetts and is an Ivy Leaguer (a Brooks-Brothers type) through-and-through. He's not a Jersey guy. Pretty much his whole professional life has been in international finance and then as Ambassador to Germany. Murphy spent much of his time not just in Germany but in places like Hong Kong, Switzerland, Austria and central Europe. People need to know this. He's out out touch!
  • Tell the public what an audit is, Kim. You say you want a complete audit of the state and its operations. Great idea! But, you've got to tell the public in clear, simple terms what an audit is. You want independent operators to come in and scour every inch of the state budget, every agency and every dollar that's being spent, and you want them to do it with a timetable -- a quick timetable beginning on day one, with a prompt, firm completion and reporting date.
  • Ask taxpayers to bring their property tax bills to your meetings and rallies and call out how much they're paying annually. Do they really want to pay more? Do they actually think they're undertaxed?  Now, you say you will step down if you don't lower property taxes in your first term. OK, then sign your name to that pledge in a dramatic way at an appropriate place and on an oversized pledge document and ask Murphy to do the same. And while you're at it, pledge to lower property taxes by January 1, 2021. That way, if you haven't delivered on your promise you can step aside and let someone else lead the GOP ticket in the next gubernatorial election. That specificity will show you're serious about this. 
  • Hammer home taxes and competency, taxes and competency, taxes and competency. You'll cut taxes, Murphy won't. You know New Jersey, Murphy doesn't. You know how to make government work, he doesn't. Hey, New Jersey's different. It's unique. A person can travel all over the world and still be out of their league in New Jersey. This ain't Switzerland or Germany of Hong Kong. It ain't even Massachusetts, Princeton notwithstanding. 
  • If Murphy wants to link you to Christie (and he's already doing that) then promptly link him to his Goldman Sachs buddy, Corzine. And if it gets rough, tie him to as many lefty wackos as you can. That, by the way, shouldn't be difficult.
  • Finally, if Murphy wants to talk economics, business and growth (his presumed specialty) that's your calling card, Kim. Showcase all you've done for job growth and economic development (as well as ending needless red tape and regulation) in New Jersey over the past eight years.
  • In the end, always, always, always remember to keep it simple and remain nimble. Don't let him trap or define you. Simple and nimble-- that's the formula!

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