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Jeff Bell, Dark Horse Candidate in New Jersey

2:29 PM, Mar 24, 2014 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Big news: Up in New Jersey, Jeff Bell is running for the Senate.

Jeff Bell, New Jersey

Okay, this may not qualify as big news for you, but it's pretty exciting for me because (1) Bell is a friend, and this is the first time a friend of mine has run for office; and (2) New Jersey is, as the kids say, my 'hood.

I grew up in Jersey (Exit 4) but have been exiled to Virginia since 1997 for crimes I didn't commit. The Commonwealth has much to recommend it, but Jersey will always be home. You know what they say: You can take the boy out of the mall, but you can't take the mall out of the boy.

Anyway, Bell's candidacy should excite you because you probably know him, too. In addition to being one of the smartest political minds in America, he's a long-time contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. (You can read through the archive of his stuff here.)

It's a dark horse candidacy, to be sure: If Bell wins the Republican nomination, he'll face incumbent Sen. Cory Booker in the general election. And there are lots of reasons Booker will be the favorite: incumbency, money, name-ID—the fact that New Jersey hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972.

But Bell could make it a competitive race, for a few reasons. The first, of course, is that it looks like there's a North Shore-size wave building for Republicans across the country this year. Second, Booker is vulnerable to the charge of being "in the pocket of both Wall Street and Silicon Valley"—and that's the wrong company to be running in right about now. (Don't take my word for it; that's a direct quote from the progressive site Daily Kos.) And while Booker is an attractive candidate, as a political commodity we have no idea whether or not he can take a punch.

Finally, there's this: If there's anyone who can see around corners and find political angles, it's Jeff Bell. Head over to his website, Bell2014.com, and look at the issues he's highlighting: middle-class economics, Obamacare, legal immigration, and religious freedom. These are all the spots where Obama Democrats are on the wrong side of voters (and the Republican establishment isn't much better). I suspect that Bell is going to run a populist campaign and there's going to be a real market for what he's proposing.

So don't sleep on Jeff Bell in New Jersey.

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