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Cory Booker: For Whom the Bell Tolls

11:44 PM, Jun 3, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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In the March 10 WEEKLY STANDARD, we wrote ("Get Off the Sidelines," TWS March 10, 2014):  

A couple of weeks ago, our friend and frequent Weekly Standard contributor Jeffrey Bell announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for Senate in New Jersey. Bell won that nomination as a young man in 1978. An unknown, he engineered a historic defeat of the incumbent liberal Republican, Clifford Case. Even though Bell lost the general election to Bill Bradley, his upset played a role in changing the character of the Republican party and in paving the way for Ronald Reagan in 1980. 

Bell has had a fruitful career since then as a conservative activist and thinker. He didn’t have to choose to once again subject himself to the rigors of elective politics. But he did. As it happens, we suspect, contrary to conventional wisdom, that Bell has a chance—an outside chance—to defeat the overrated incumbent, Cory Booker. We think he has a good chance to help the overall conservative cause by running. The fact is, despite the long odds, Bell is back in the arena, trying to perform yet another service for his cause and for his country.

Tonight, in a close four-way primary, Jeff Bell completed a come-from-behind surge to win the Republican nomination for Senate in New Jersey. Now the fun begins.

Cory Booker starts out way ahead in the general election campaign. But Bell will run as an intelligent and aggressive full-spectrum conservative. He'll emphasize his pro-growth, pro-Main Street agenda, with a focus on monetary policy, in particular a return to the gold standard. This message will bewilder the elites. But it helped Bell win the primary against better known opponents.

If Bell can get enough funding, his populist and thoughtful conservatism could pose a real challenge to Booker's elitist and shallow liberalism. In which case, Bell could—amazingly—win the same Senate seat he lost to Bill Bradley 36 years ago.

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