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Law Enforcement Credentials Lead to GOP Success in Even the Most Liberal Districts

Crime

New York City has six registered Democrats for every registered Republican, and yet the city has elected a Republican-backed candidate for mayor in five straight elections. In an effort to extend this remarkable streak, Republicans are rooting for a familiar face with electability to enter the 2013 mayoral race.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is currently being courted by top New York State Republican officials to run for New York City mayor. With a 64 percent approval rating, Kelly possesses a credential that has proven effective for Republicans to win in heavily Democratic areas – law enforcement success.

Back in 1993, Rudolph Giuliani ran as a Republican for New York City mayor. As a former United States Attorney who gained notoriety for prosecuting organized crime under RICO statutes, Giuliani ran on a platform of “quality of life,” advocating for more aggressive policing to reduce crime. New York City voters elected Giuliani as the first Republican mayor in 28 years.

The subsequent Giuliani performance in office speaks for itself. Giuliani left office after substantially reducing crime and leading the city through the September 11, 2001 attacks. And notably, the City has elected the Republican-backed candidate in each of the four mayoral elections since.

Republican success with former law-enforcement officials is not just limited to New York City.

Across the Hudson River, New Jersey elected Republican Chris Christie in 2009 as governor, one year after supporting Barack Obama by 15 points. Christie campaigned on his prosecutorial performance as a former United States Attorney, having won corruption convictions on 130 New Jersey public officials without losing a single case. And since, Christie has amassed a job approval rating over 50 percent, which makes him an odds-on favorite for re-election in 2013.

In the cases of Giuliani and Christie, voters had the unique opportunity to see each gentlemen perform his law-enforcement duties with success, which allowed them to earn broad voter support – despite being a Republican. And in both cases, the candidates proved to be successful in office, which voters remember in subsequent elections. Ray Kelly shares this same potential.

New Yorkers know that during Kelly’s tenure as Police Commissioner from 2002 to present, they have been kept safe from another terrorist attack despite an unrelenting threat. At the same time, city dwellers have seen crime rates remain relatively flat despite budget cuts and a smaller NYPD force than before 9/11.

As history shows, voters in heavily Democratic areas are willing to vote for a Republican candidate who has proven himself in law-enforcement. Given this model, New York City voters may cross party lines and support Ray Kelly for mayor.

Republicans would be wise to see Kelly’s potential in New York City, as well as the potential for other law enforcement officials throughout the country to be successful Republican candidates in Democratic strongholds.

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