Nutley official kicks off campaign for governor

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MORRIS TOWNSHIP — The red hats with white lettering looked familiar, but they didn’t say “Make America Great Again.”

The hats, worn by people in a solarium at the Madison Hotel, instead read: “Steve Rogers for Governor.”

Rogers is a Nutley commissioner who was the first New Jersey elected official to publicly endorse Donald Trump, and on Thursday he kicked off his campaign for the Republican nomination for the state’s highest office.

“As far as I’m concerned, [Trump] touched the heart of the people, and that’s what I’m doing here,” Rogers said.

Rogers began his campaign with a series of promises to invest in transportation infrastructure while repealing the recent gas tax hike, institute term limits for all elected officials, treat drug dealers as terrorists and improve New Jersey’s lagging economy. And, like Trump, the proposals often didn’t reflect the messy legislative reality of accomplishing them.

“My plan for New Jersey is to make sure that the other 49 states envy us, and there is no reason we cannot reach that goal,” Rogers said.

But despite aiming for the wave of populism that swept Trump into office, Rogers vowed a campaign free of insults, said he would work with Democrats and that he would seek to “tear down” walls, evoking Ronald Reagan rather than Trump.

“You will not hear from these lips one criticism of any candidate running for office,” said Rogers,. “We will address policies, but we are not going to lower the bar.”

With Republican Gov. Chris Christie entering his final year in office as one of the most unpopular governors in New Jersey history, Democrats are heavily favored to win the governorship.

Rogers — who was first elected in Nutley in 2012 — is not the first candidate to declare for the Republican nomination, and at this point is considered a longshot.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli of Somerset County declared his candidacy in October. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is widely expected to announce a campaign after the holidays, after forming a non-profit to lay the groundwork. And Joseph “Rudy” Rullo of Ocean County, who has unsuccessfully run for other offices several times, has also said he’s running.

But Rogers has at least one advantage, as a frequent commentator on conservative cable news.

He has more than three decades as a Nutley police department veteran, served in the Air Force and in the Naval Reserve, where he served as an intelligence officer. He also served on the Senior Naval Intelligence Officer for the FBI National Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to his biography on Nutley’s website.

That experience has made him a regular guest on cable news programs, particularly on Fox News and Fox Business Network, where he first officially announced he would run for governor on Wednesday evening. (Rogers also shares a name with the alter ego of the comic book super hero Captain America, though he made no mention of it at his event.)

In his speech, Rogers promised that much of his governance would be through executive fiat.

“We’re going to repeal the gas tax increase,” Rogers said of the 23 cent per gallon hike that went into effect last month. “It will be repealed by executive order.”

Rogers also said that, “if I have to,” he would throw out the state’s strict concealed carry gun law that requires applicants to demonstrate “justifiable need” through executive order — a standard that makes it virtually impossible for most New Jerseyans to carry guns.

“We do not need a panel of judges or legislators to tell you or me why we feel we need to protect ourselves,” Rogers said.

Although New Jersey governors are allowed to issue executive orders that have the force of laws, and the constitutional and statutory authority to issue them is rather vague, legal experts questioned the ability to repeal state laws through executive order.

“It’s not within a governor’s authority to do it,” said Bob Williams, director of the of the Center for State Constitutional Studies at Rutgers. “Executing, administering and implementing the law does require some discretion. And governors can us executive orders to further implement or execute the law. And that line is a little blurry. But it certainly wouldn’t include repealing legislative rules that have passed both houses and been accepted by the governor.”

Asked about his executive order promises after his speech, Rogers was more conciliatory.

“I actually said, if I was able to do that. Obviously, what I will have to do is sit down with the leaders of the Legislature and explain to them the burden that this has placed upon the taxpayers,” he said.

Rogers also called for term limits for elected officials at all levels of government.

Governors are already limited to two consecutive terms by the state Constitution. Senators and Assembly members are not term-limited — a change that would require a constitutional amendment approved by voters.

Rogers also proposed reducing traffic in North Jersey by expanding its ferry system. He proposed stricter punishments for people who lie about police conduct, as well as for police officers convicted of misconduct.

And Rogers said he would seek to have every town in the state follow Nutley’s example and create a veterans affairs bureau at the local level.

Rogers said that drug dealers should be prosecuted as terrorists because money from the drug trade can finance terrorism. He later clarified that he was speaking of opiates and not milder drugs like marijuana.

“If you are a drug dealer, you are a terrorist and you will be dealt with like a terrorist,” Rogers said.

Asked how he would do that, Rogers said he would likely have to pursue it through federal law by working with the state’s representatives.

Rogers made no mention of Christie, though he did say “we need to respect our teachers,” which contrasted with the governor’s frequent headbutting with the state’s teachers union.

Asked about the legacy of Christie, whose 18 percent approval rating is near the lowest for any governor in memory, Rogers demurred.

“I have decided to invoke the Reagan Eleventh Commandment. I will not speak about any other Republicans,” he said. “Gov. Christie or anybody else is the past. I’m talking about the future.”


Hero cop, military intel officer seeking to replace outgoing NJ Gov. Christie

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While New Jersey news media outlets obsessed over negative news stories about America’s President Donald Trump, the Governor of the Garden State Chris Christie will be leaving office after two terms thereby initiating what just may turn out to be a fierce GOP race for the party’s governorship.

So far, four candidates have thrown their hats into the ring: Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Nutley Commissioner Steven Rogers, and Ocean County businessman Joseph Rullo and Nutley, New Jersey Commissioner of Public Affairs and Fox News Channel contributor Steve Rogers.

Steve Rogers served in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, FBI Terrorism Task Force, and the Nutley, NJ, Police Department as chief of detectives.
Steve Rogers served in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, FBI Terrorism Task Force, and the Nutley, NJ, Police Department as chief of detectives.

On the anniversary of the December 7 bombing of Pearl Harbor, Nutley, New Jersey, Commissioner Steven Rogers announced his intention to challenge the GOP establishment for the state governorship. Recent surveys have indicated that Christie is politically vulnerable thanks to a scandal involving the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey with New York City, as well as the perception of an overall lack of leadership qualities.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the USAF in 1974, Steven Rogers became a police officer in the city of East Orange, New Jersey. In 1976, he left the East Orange Police Department and became a police officer in the Township of Nutley, N.J. until he retired in 2011 as a Detective Lieutenant, Commander of the police department’s criminal investigative division. In 1991, Mr. Rogers was appointed by the NJ Attorney General to teach Community Policing methodologies at the Israeli National Police Academy, Beit Shemesh, Israel.

In 2008, Mr. Rogers was elected to the Nutley, N.J. school district Board of Education, and in 2012, he was elected to the Nutley, N.J. Board of Commissioners, and re-elected to that position in May, 2016. During his tenure as a Nutley Commissioner he established the first municipal government Military & Veterans Affairs Bureau in New Jersey, which has won national acclaim.

Mr Rogers served in the United States Air Force from 1970-1974. In 1986, Mr. Rogers enlisted in the United States Navy Reserves and served with the Office of Naval Intelligence until he retired as a Lieutenant Commander in 2004. In 2001, he served as the Deputy Director Intelligence Support Group, Homeland Security. In 2002, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff, (N2) Intelligence, assigned as the U.S. Northern Command’s Senior Military Intelligence Officer to the FBI National Joint Terrorism Task Force, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Rogers has a degree in Criminal Justice Administration from William Paterson University, Wayne, N.J. He also completed courses of study in military strategy at the United States Naval War College, Rhode Island; and courses on Global Terrorism at the United Nations, New York City. Mr. Rogers is an author and FOX News guest commentator. Mr. Rogers is married and has 3 grown children. In 2015-2016, he served as an Advisor to the campaign of President Donald Trump.

(Full Disclosure: Conservative Base editor — and former law enforcement official — Jim Kouri is a personal friend and colleague of the GOP candidate for New Jersey Governor, former Det. Lt. Steve Rogers.)

Rogers shows shades of Trump as he enters N.J governor’s race

By Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for
December 08, 2016
MORRIS TOWNSHIP — A few people in the crowd wore familiar-looking red baseball caps with white lettering. But no, unlike the ones sported by Donald Trump supporters, they didn’t say, “Make America Great Again.”

Instead, the hats read, “Steve Rogers for Governor.”

Rogers, a township commissioner in Nutley, has formally joined the ever-growing race to succeed Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor, kicking off his campaign for the Republican nomination with a Trump-like message Thursday.

Among the promises Rogers, who was an adviser to Trump during the president-elect’s campaign, made at his launch event: reversing the recent state gas tax hike, charge drug dealers of serious narcotics as terrorists, and make it easier for people in the state to legally carry a gun.

“My vision for New Jersey is to make sure the other 49 states envy us,” Rogers, 64, told supporters at the Madison Hotel just outside of Morristown. “And there is no reason we cannot reach that goal.”

Rogers is a U.S. Air Force vet who served for years in both the U.S. Navy Reserves and the Nutley police department. He was previously served on the Nutley school board and was elected to his second term on the township’s council in May.

Rogers has also been a frequent commentator on Fox News. He announced his gubernatorial bid Wednesday night during an appearance on Fox Business Network.

The Trump parallels were obvious Thursday. Echoing the former Atlantic City casino magnate who was elected president last month, Rogers vowed to “renew and restore New Jersey,” partially by getting rid of establishment politics. He also promised to “produce thousands upon thousands of jobs just by thinking a little outside of the box.”

“We’re Americans. We can do anything,” said Rogers, who claims to have been the first elected official in New Jersey to endorse Trump.

As for the hats? They’re not official campaign merchandise. A Rogers supporter had them made and handed them out.

How a populist message plays out in the Garden State is unclear. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in the state, which went for Trump’s top opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, by a wide margin last month. Political experts say the Democratic Party is favored to retake the governor’s office after eight years of Christie, a Republican.

Rogers is also considered a long shot in a suddenly crowded race for the GOP nod. State Assemblyman Jack Ciatterelli (R-Somerset) and Ocean County businessman Joseph Rullo have already declared their candidacy.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is expected to join the party’s primary race. Other possible candidates include Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, Evesham Mayor Randy Brown, and comedian Joe Piscopo.

Matthew Hale, a political science professor at Seton Hall University, said there’s “definately room for an outsider candidate to surprise us” in the race.

But, Hale added, it’s “not clear what is gained in New Jersey by running as a mini-Trump.”

Rogers rolled out a number of ideas Thursday, some of which seemed lofty:

* Repealing the controversial 23-cent gas hike that lawmakers passed and Christie signed to pay for state transportation projects.

Rogers said during his speech he would get rid of it through executive order. While governors can issue executive orders, it’s unclear if they’d be allowed to repeal laws that way.

Rogers told reporters afterwards he would try to convince lawmakers to find another solution.

“I believe when you sit down with people and show them how bad this is, I think they’re going to think twice,” he said.

* Prosecuting dealers of high-level drugs — such as opiates like heroin — as terrorists. Rogers said he would probably need to develop that plan with the federal government.

“I have a message for every drug dealer in the state: You better pack your bags before I get elected,” he said.

Rogers said he would not go after marijuana dealers.

* Making it easier for New Jerseyans to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm. Under current state law, people need to prove to the court they have a “justifiable need” to carry. Rogers said if need be, he’d resort to an executive order to change that, too.

“The Second Amendment is not negotiable,” Rogers said.

* Restoring cost-of-living increases to pension benefits that were frozen under a law Christie signed in 2011.

* Eliminating PARCC testing and Common Core.

“We need to give the power to teach back to the teachers,” he said.

* Easing traffic along the Route 3 corridor by creating new ferry services along the Hudson River.

The favorite in next year’s race is Democrat Phil Murphy, a former banking executive and U.S. ambassador to Germany who loaned his campaign $10 million. But Rogers said he isn’t worried about facing wealthy opponents.

“I’m a middle class guy who has a calling from God,” Rogers said. “I believe this is a calling.”

One major difference from Trump? Rogers said he won’t criticize his opponents and will focus on policy instead.

“We are not going to lower the bar,” he said.