For those unfamiliar with his name, Bret Schundler (photo above), the former mayor of Jersey City, NJ, was considered a rising star in the GOP in the late 1990s, as a rare Republican who won office in an urban, Democratic stronghold. For example, back in 1999, William F. Buckley, Jr. considered Schundler a presidential prospect for 2008 (another fan back then, if memory serves, was Jack Kemp). Unfortunately for Schundler, although he would have been an appealing candidate for statewide office somewhere else, he was considered too conservative for New Jersey, and was unsuccessful in his two attempts at the governorship, which could have been a stepping stone to national office.
I had the pleasure of meeting Schundler once in the early 1990s, when he took time off from running Jersey City to speak with the five or six students who showed up to see him at the Republican club event at my university. He struck me as being literate: while speaking extemporaneously about some issue of the day I remember him referring to some relevant point from Plato. He also explained how his faith compelled him to advocate for policies to help the poor, but that he wanted to bring more effectiveness and accountability to those policies.
Schundler apparently made enough money in a handful of years working on Wall Street in the late 1980s that, after traveling the world for a year, he could devote his energies to public service. After the recent market meltdown, it looks like it's back to the salt mines for Schundler. Below is the text of an e-mail I received from him today, announcing that he was abandoning his latest campaign for mayor of Jersey City (I hadn't known he was running again until I received this today):
January 12, 2009
I will not be running to become Jersey City's Mayor this year.
Our nation's economic crisis caused the value of several long-term investments of mine to plummet. I had been hoping these investments would bounce back, but they have continued to fall, and I have now been forced to sell them at a loss.
This will make it impossible for me to run for mayor this year. I had planned to campaign full-time this Spring and to pay my family's mortgage and my children's tuition bills out of invested savings. Instead, I will need to work full-time at an income-earning job to pay those mortgage and tuition bills.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for your encouragement and support this past year. In the five weeks from mid-October to just before Thanksgiving, we raised almost $200,000 in campaign contributions. We had a great start, and I do believe we could have won this election were I able to fundraise and campaign full-time this Spring. Unfortunately, that is no longer an option.
One positive bit of news: we have not spent much of the money that the campaign raised. Accordingly, we will be providing a very large percentage refund to everyone who contributed.
I love Jersey City, and I will do what I can to benefit it, but I have a responsibility to provide for my family. The reality now is that I need to be working full-time at an income-earning job. I hope you will understand.
The photo above is from PolitickerNJ