Races of the WeekSpadea vs. Holt

“In order to win, you just can’t field a real conservative Republican candidate. This is a different kind of district, so a different, more moderate message is needed to win.”

How many times have conservatives heard that line? From California to Connecticut, the mantra is always the same: A non-conservative Republican candidate is the most electable and therefore, conservatives need not apply. In many cases, this formula does not work–liberals don’t want a moderate Republican. They prefer the “real deal” with the Democratic label and on the GOP side, conservatives who do the bulk of volunteer campaign work are not motivated by a “wet” standard-bearer.

One swashbuckling campaigner who plans to knock this anti-conservative theory into a cocked hat this fall is Bill Spadea, former U.S. Marine and vice president of Weichert Realtors, the largest individually owned real estate company in the nation. As the Republican nominee against three-term Rep. Rush Holt (D.-N.J.), the 35-year-old Spadea at first seems the antithesis of most GOP candidates and elected officials in the Garden State: With no apologies, he is strongly pro-life, anti-tax, and pro-2nd Amendment. As the two-fisted national chairman of the College Republicans, Spadea found his experience as a Marine corporal was very useful in battling the left. (“They had their demonstrations, and we roughed it up a few times,” recalled United Press International’s Peter Roff of his CR days with Spadea.) After completing his study of history and political science at Boston University, Spadea in 1996 served as deputy campaign chairman for Pat Buchanan’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

So how does someone cut from Spadea’s ideological cloth defeat Holt in a district that includes Monmouth, Hunterdon counties, and the city of Flemington? “By taking the message of just how far outside the mainstream Holt is to voters, going one-on-one and door-to-door,” says the GOP hopeful without hesitation.

As evidence that Holt (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: a lowly 4%) is “outside the mainstream,” Spadea ticks off Holt’s liberal voting record on every conceivable red-meat issue: against the Bush tax cuts and against a ban on partial birth abortion, for a cloning bill, and notes that Holt has been given ratings of “zero” from the National Federation of Independent Business and Gun Owners of America.

“And please don’t forget his endorsement of Howard Dean for President,” said Spadea, noting that his opponent was one of the first elected officials in New Jersey to embrace the antiwar, pro-UN, pro-civil union Vermonter. Recalling Holt’s votes against greater defense spending even after 9/11 and Dean’s running to the left of John Kerry on the Iraqi War during the Democratic nomination process, the feisty Spadea declared: “There is no issue in this campaign of greater importance than our security. Like Howard Dean, my opponent never got the message on fighting terrorism. The President needs a few good men in Congress. So why not send him a former Marine who will support him in making America safe again?