Conservative Activist Ponders Challenge to Christie in GOP Primary

Conservative activist Seth Grossman is seriously contemplating a challenge to popular New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the state’s June 4 Republican primary.  It’s a daunting task.

Grossman, an Atlantic City lawyer and radio talk show host, said that he will make his decision shortly.

A former city councilman and Atlantic County freeholder — a post he held from 1989 to 1991 — Grossman currently serves as executive director of Liberty and Prosperity, a Tea Party-affiliated nonprofit organization founded in 2003.  He is also the founder of the Chelsea Neighborhood Association, Atlantic City’s oldest and largest neighborhood civic group.

Grossman is a longtime ally of tax crusader and immigration foe Steven M. Lonegan, both of whom were briefly arrested in January 2008 when they were protesting Gov. Jon Corzine’s unpopular proposal to reduce the state’s debt by enacting sharp toll increases.  Township officials where the arrest occurred later apologized and the charges were dropped.

The longtime citizen-activist also wrote the foreword to Lonegan’s book, Putting Taxpayers First, which was published that same year, and vigorously supported the former Bogota mayor’s spirited bid for governor in the state’s 2009 Republican primary, a hotly-contested race that Christie — carrying all but 2 of the Garden State’s 21 counties — won by more than 43,000 votes.

Lonegan, who is legally blind, now heads the New Jersey chapter of the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity.

Even if it’s only a symbolic protest candidacy, Grossman sounds serious about mounting a challenge to the popular incumbent.  In fact, he’s already established a campaign web site where, among other things, he promises to repudiate most of the state’s $240 billion debt because it wasn’t approved by the voters while capping public pensions at $50,000 per year and clamping down on illegal immigration and corporate welfare, the latter of which — according to the New York Times — has run rampant during Christie’s first three years in office.

Under Christie, who seems more than content to mortgage the state’s future for his own political gain — a point Grossman regularly drives home to his listeners — New Jersey has become something of a feeding trough for wealthy corporations.  As of last spring, the Republican governor had already doled out a record $1.6 billion in subsidies to corporations, including a $251 million handout to Prudential Financial for moving into a new building only four blocks away.  It was probably the most expensive move in American history.

They should have called U-Haul, quipped one of the governor’s critics. 

“Why would any Republican in his right mind want to support Chris Christie?” asked Grossman, a graduate of Duke University who earned his law degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.  “Republican voters deserve a choice.”

He’s right, of course.

If he decides to give it a whirl, the 63-year-old Grossman will have a difficult road ahead given Christie’s overall approval rating of 74 percent, including a whopping 93 percent among Republicans, but this would be a fun and entertaining race to watch — a genuine David vs. Goliath struggle.

UPDATE:  In a press release issued late Friday evening, Grossman said that he intends to enter the race and will make his formal announcement Tuesday morning, February 12, at 10 a.m. in front of the Revel Casino in Atlantic City.  A second event will be held in Newark later that afternoon.

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