Curtis Bashaw, Garden State GOP Senate Candidate, Embraces Reagan’s Message, Calling 2024 a ‘Time for Choosing’

He decries Biden’s inflation, and warns that the regulatory state is denying New Jersey citizens the promise of their state motto, ‘Liberty and Prosperity.’

Jeanette Hoffman via AP
Republican Senate candidate Curtis Bashaw on June 4, 2024, at Congress Hall, Cape May, New Jersey. Jeanette Hoffman via AP

With multiple indictments prompting Senator Menendez of New Jersey to run as an independent, the Democrat’s seat in the Senate is emerging as a Republican pickup opportunity in a three-way race. Carrying the GOP’s hopes of ending its 52-year Senate losing streak is an entrepreneur, Curtis Bashaw, who overcame a primary rival backed by President Trump.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Bashaw said that Democrats can’t “put me in a box.” A “married, gay man” and “lifelong Republican” he said, “We beat a Trump endorsement not because we’re against Trump, but I believe because we won the hearts and minds of New Jerseyans.”

Mr. Bashaw said that he and Mr. Trump haven’t had “a direct conversation,” but there has been “communication between the campaigns.” Asked if Mr. Trump would be “welcomed to campaign for” him, Mr. Bashaw answered that he foresees being “running mates and teammates this fall.”

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd during a campaign rally in Wildwood, N.J., Saturday, May 11, 2024. (
President Trump at Wildwood, New Jersey, May 11, 2024. AP/Matt Rourke

Mr. Trump backed a “long-time employee’s wife” in the primary. That was, Mr. Bashaw says, understandable. He adds that he has employees that he’s “very loyal to” as well. These include the staff at hotels across New Jersey, including the historic Congress Hall, a 19th-century structure at Cape May.

Mr. Bashaw laid out how saving Congress Hall from bulldozers required uniting government agencies, constituents, and preservationists. He drew a contrast between this real-world experience and that of President Biden, Mr. Menendez — who climbed the state’s ladder of elective offices — and the Democratic candidate, Congressman Andrew Kim.

Mr. Bashaw criticized Mr. Kim for being “pretty quiet on Israel” and for voting against the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” in Congress. Israelis, Mr. Bashaw said, have “the right to defend themselves and take out this terrorist scourge that literally attacked them,” and Americans “have to support our allies and our friends.”

Of antisemitism on campuses, Mr. Bashaw said that freedom cannot extend to denying rights to others or to making threats. “I went and saw the encampment at Rutgers,” he said, “and if those signs and statements had been directed against another group — a gay group, for example — I think Merrick Garland would have had the Justice Department investigating.”

Mr. Bashaw embraced the theme of President Reagan’s 1964 speech, “A Time for Choosing,” and recalled voting for him in 1980 “because I loved the values of limited government; I think less government equals more freedom.” Of his success, the Republican said, “I don’t need to do this; I have a great life. I’m doing it because I love the country and I feel like we’ve gotten away from our core.”

Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Menendez on Capitol Hill, December 7, 2021. AP/Alex Brandon, pool

Mr. Biden “keeps trying to say the economy is good and quotes these macro statistics” Mr. Bashaw said, but “groceries are 30 percent more than when he took office.” In addition to inflation, he called out the regulatory state for denying New Jersey citizens the promise of their state motto, “Liberty and Prosperity.”

Mr. Bashaw suggested that Mr. Biden “talk to the small business owner about these mandates and regulations and try to understand” that they “don’t get paid to be tax collectors,” but are forced to fill the role for payroll withholding. “We’re different human beings,” he said of himself and Mr. Trump, “but I think he’s been vindicated on a ton of issues,” including immigration which “is impacting poorer communities the hardest.”

On a recent trip to the border, Mr. Bashaw witnessed 60 people from as far away as Communist China and Syria entering America in two hours. “We’ve conflated,” he said, “immigration policy with border security. I go to bed at night; I lock my door, and a sovereign nation is entitled to a border.”

Amid “high inflation, tough school budgets, and extremely expensive” and “limited” housing, “we have people coming in; we don’t know who they are… It unnerves people.”

“I don’t think we can have four more years of Joe Biden,” Mr. Bashaw said. Whether the president or Mr. Trump wins a second term, the New Jersey hotelier hopes to be in Washington to shape the restoration of the country, and to add the moniker of “senator” to a resume that’s already impossible to put in a single box.


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