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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New Jersey GOP primary results

Good news and bad news from New Jersey's primaries, and both are about the exact same thing: Jeffrey Bell's victory in the Republican primary to be challenger against Cory Booker for Senate.

The good news: Bell is an intelligent conservative policy wonk, someone with real experience and knowledge, not some "anti-establishment" candidate whose stock in trade is not knowing what he's talking about. He also has an interesting backstory of having unseated Clifford Case in the Republican Senate primary in 1978 (before losing to Bill Bradley for a seat that's been Democratic ever since).

The bad news: Bell is planning a campaign focused on the gold standard. Back in 1978, there was a case to be made for some kind of linkage of the dollar to gold. Inflation was surging and the then-new experiment in non-commodity fiat money was going poorly. Now, 36 years later, gold standard advocacy is a fossil relic of 1970s conservatism, a solution for a problem, high inflation, that doesn't exist, and a monetary policy repackaged as an all-purpose nostrum for whatever ails your economy.

It's good that policy-oriented conservatism will get a hearing in New Jersey this fall. It would have been great if this were a policy-oriented conservatism that's geared for the 21st century.

Bell has little chance of winning. The question is whether he'll make a case that will make him deserving of a win.

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