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Two decades later, two former political opponents excel in their post-political lives | Opinion

Two decades later, two former political opponents excel in their post-political lives | Opinion

By Alan J. Steinberg

A day in politics can be a lifetime, according to the media.

The most important day in New Jersey history is Saturday, January 15, 2022. Yet even the most dedicated members of Jersey politics will doubtlessly ignore it.

Jim McGreevey, then 44, was elected governor of New Jersey on January 15, 2002. It was the culmination of a hard-fought 2001 gubernatorial campaign between Democrat McGreevey and his Republican opponent, Bret Schundler, and his former mayor of Jersey City.

Both candidates were successful mayors and excellent communicators, who articulated the message of each candidate. The main problem of each candidate was the unaffordability of New Jersey for the non-wealthy.

Jim McGreevey's message was addressed to the "working families of New Jersey." He was a most astute politician and a New Dealer at heart, who understood how the Democratic Party had been losing support among the lower middle class. A McGreevey rally set the tone of an FDR rally in the 1930s, with union members and leaders very much present.

The message for Schundler was empowerment, which was driven by the need to take government off the backs of individuals and businesses, large and small, and to restore their faith in self-reliance, individual choice, and the free market system.

Both candidates embraced the very best of people, according to the McGreevey message, although liberal, but non-demagogic. Schundler, a very much a Jack Kemp Republican, conveyed a message that was classically conservative, yet one of racial and ethnic inclusiveness, a far cry from Trump's racism and fascism.

On that gubernatorial inauguration day of 2002, virtually nobody could imagine that both Bret Schundler and Jim McGreevey's electoral careers would soon be ended.

Schundler's electoral career ended with his victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary of 2005. McGreevey's political candidacy involvement ended with his resignation in 2004 following the revelation of his extramarital affair with a male gubernatorial employee.

Both McGreevey and Schundler left the political campaign arena, but most media observers thought their impact on public policy was over. Few could have imagined that each person would each attain a public policy legacy of national influence.

Yet Bret Schundler and Jim McGreevey are both individuals with compassionate hearts and a profound sense of mission. Most important, both have a deep sense of concern about the unintended treatment of ethnic and racial constituents resulting from societal discrimination.

McGreevey's legacy since his resignation has been in the process of allowing individuals to return to the country to enjoy happiness in the process of being accepted in society. he has highlighted that in New Jersey, historically African Americans are 12 times more likely, and Latinos are six times more likely than whites to be incarcerated.

In addition, prisons and jails serve people who have disproportionately suffered from trauma, co-occurring medical conditions, and addiction, a problem that has been greatly exacerbated by the current opioid epidemic.

Bret Schundler's post-political career has been achieved in education, particularly in the area of charter schools, which are publicly funded yet privately run schools.

The. Beloved, a local charter school he has founded and led, has more than doubled its capacity, according to the State of New Jersey. Empowerment also serves 960 students in kindergarten through seventh grade and is state-approved for kindergarten through ninth grade.

Both Jim McGreevey and Bret Schundler fell short of their career dreams in advising office achievement. Yet each in their post-political career achieved a legacy that surpasses that of the vast majority of elective officials throughout New Jersey history.

At the age of former President George W. Bush, Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of the Region 2 EPA, as well as as the executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

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