I Want Your Advice, and I Need your Help

Promoted from the diaries by Rosi. Blue Jersey, please weigh in on this.

Principles- then a plan.

As you know, I was recently elected Chair of the NJDSC.  I want to make sure that the BlueJersey community knows where I stand and accepts my invitation to be a vital part of the New New Jersey Democratic State Party.

A stronger party from the bottom up.  A commitment to new ideas, new media and new voices.  An unwavering dedication to the Democratic values of inclusion, fairness and justice.  And working to elect Democrats in every corner of our state and at every level of government.  These are my guiding principles.

One of the first items I read when I decided to pursue becoming Democratic State Chair, was Rosi Efthim’s excellent diary entry, An Open Letter to the next Democratic State Chair.  I urge every Democrat to read this, as it has been very useful in helping shape and support my plan for building our party from the grassroots level up.  In fact, I’ve been talking about many of Rosi’s very practical, on-point recommendations almost everywhere I go.

Chairman Cryan has done an exemplary job in his role – my hope is to build upon his progress.  The suggestions from Democratic activists like Rosi will be a foundation for how we will direct more campaign training, candidate recruitment, and web resources to the local level in our State.  I am committed to making sure our new Democratic State Party will seek and act on more local input from our County Committeemen and Women and other Democratic activists.

Clearly, as a party, we need to focus on delivering a message on the grassroots level that too often has been overlooked. We need to do better. There is a need to further extend the welcome mat of inclusion, both to the new voters that the Obama campaign energized and activated, as well as the independents that voted for change on the national level.

I want to hear from you what it will take for New Jersey’s Democrats to re-engage and re-capture the suburbs, while we strengthen our urban base and re-build our state party. This includes making the most of the redistricting process and preparing to elect Democrats on the local level, in Congress, the legislature in 2011 and up to the statewide re-election of United States Senator Bob Menendez in 2012.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on how we can craft a powerful plan to move our Party forward together. Thank you.


John Wisniewski  

Comments (43)

  1. Hopeful

    I think there is nothing more discouraging to ordindary voters and activists alike than the continous scandals of corruption and abuses–both legal and illegal– by Democratic officials. That Republicans are just as bad is no excuse.  The party has to become serious about reform–pay to play, overpaid Boards, pensions, bribes, conflicts of interest etc etc

  2. tabbycat31

    I listed ten points that can be accomplished at the state level and ten at the county level.  You can read them here


    Another thing you have to realize is that a good chunk of the base of your party is under 30.  Work with colleges throughout the state to build Democratic clubs on campuses (we have an active one that will die in May as all are graduating).  I’ll be doing a diary on young voter outreach soon.

    Glad to see you posting here Chairman, and stop by again and keep us updated.  

  3. Thurman Hart

    This past July, thirty political operatives were arrested in a single FBI sting.  All but maybe three were Democrats.  Nearly two-thirds of them were from Hudson County and HALF of them were from Jersey City.  What actions were taken by the DSC to investigate what is very obviously an organized crime operation in their midst?  The SITTING CHAIR of the HCDO is on tape giving his verbal consent for the illegal campaign contributions to move forward.  What is being done by the party to police the party?  

    From media reports, the only concern is that Hudson County hasn’t been cranking out the votes like it used to.  To that, the Party has a solution…Menendez will apparently back Brian Stack to become chair of the HCDO.  Can Stack possibly build the patronage machine and fight corruption?  No one with enough brain cells to speak of in the plural things so.  

    It speaks volumes that there is a plan in the works to boost voter turnout, but nothing to deal with accountability.  It isn’t as if the HCDO is the only county organization with problems.  Recent media reports have shown a spotlight on Atlantic City, and Joe Ferriero and his buddy Oury raped and pillaged their way through every municipal contract they could find in Bergen.  Does anyone think Camden is a clean county?  Do I have to go through and name everyone?

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant, followed by the ability to surgically remove an infected body part.  The County organizations are festering sores on the carcass of our state, and until we disinfect them and forcibly cut away those who can’t even agree to fill the duties of their offices; then nothing you, or anyone else, will matter.  Corruption breeds corruption.  You can be a good friend to the rest of the power structure, or you can be the leader New Jersey needs.  I don’t think you can be both.  Only you can decide which one you want to be.

  4. Jay Lassiter

    …and welcome to Blue Jersey.

    I’d like to see a little more diversity on the ballot.  As it stands we’ve zero women in our congressional delegation, too few in the state house, fewer faces of color and only one (token) gay.

  5. Jason Springer

    we would love to have you on Blue Jersey Radio to talk about these issues as we go forward. I’m sure our readers would love the chance to hear directly from you.

  6. JackHarris

    1.) Openness & Transparency within the party and in government at all levels:  

    People distrust NJ government and elected officials and view the NJ democratic party as corrupt.  That has to change for us to win and hold majorities.

    2.) A commitment to civil and human rights:

    Yes right now that means marriage equality — but it also means a future focus on things like child welfare and advocacy, equal opportunities in education, being able to respond compassionately and competently to issues like the upcoming migration of Haitian refugees to NJ.  We also have to defend pro-choice policies and family planning funds.

    3.) Facing the future, not fearing the future:

    Retreating to the NJ Democratic Party’s Reagan Democratic past will only ensure further defeat.  We need to be open to demographic change and actively seek to advance women in leadership, engage the 18-35 voting bloc and ensure that we recruit and retain party leaders, candidates and elected officials from all of New Jersey’s races and ethnicities.  

  7. Bertin Lefkovic

    I’d like to piggyback on what I think are three of Rosi’s best ideas that do not require the NJDSC to venture outside of its box too far.  This is not to say that any of her ideas ask the NJDSC to change more than it is capable, but these are some of the easiest and most obvious reforms.

    Get the Dem State Conference out of Atlantic City, and out of September

    I’ll say this as plainly as I can: It’s insane to take 1,000 of the state’s most passionate Dems out of play for a whole half-week just as the rest of the electorate is waking up to the fact that there are candidates running. Move the thing to late spring/early summer (after the non-partisan elections). Nothing against AC, but move it out of there or at least revolve it all over NJ.

    Make it a grassroots event, not an insiders’ schmoozefest.

    Move it to a college campus.

    Make it a convention, not a conference. Use the opportunity to develop platform, bump up training, and let the people in attendance help set the direction of the party by involving them in decision-making, platform-writing.

    Make part of the convention open source. Some of the most exciting meetings in the country are run this way.

    I think that this proposal and the one below it could be part and parcel of the same change.  In my opinion, there should be four NJDSC conferences/conventions/major events per year in March, June, September, and December respectively.

    A December event in Northern New Jersey (Montclair State University?) could be the place for the celebration/consolation of November victories/defeats, the development of the party platform, and planning for the year to come or at the very least, the beginning of a process that could be completed by a March event.

    In addition to providing a forum for the presentation and hopefully ratification of a party platform, a March event in Central New Jersey (Rutgers University) could be the place where the party’s numerous caucuses that normally meet for an hour or less at the annual conference could meet for much longer as a kickoff for caucusing that could continue at the local and regional level throughout the year.  The same approach could be utilized for a launch of the party’s campaign training programs.

    A June event in Southern New Jersey (Atlantic City) could be the place where the party comes together to literally party, which tends to be the dominant aspect of the traditional NJDSC conference.  There is a time and place for everything and considering the contentious primary election season that 2011 could and should bring, this would be a good opportunity to rally, recharge, and unify in advance of the general election season to come.  It would also be a very good opportunity for the Trenton Democrats to provide the party faithful with a frame for budget negotiations that often reach a fever pitch around this same time of year, enabling participants to return to their communities with a coherent and cohesive message.

    For the reasons described by Rosi, a September event could and should be less a singular statewide event and more a virtual, 21-county rally connected online.  An event like this could enable every county to highlight their best and brightest candidates for elected office, potentially attracting attention and support from outside the county, while presenting voters throughout the state with a message that is both diverse and unified. This event could take place over one day, three days (seven counties per day), or seven nights (three counties per night).

    Give the party a platform Let the pro-choice ones battle the anti-choice side. Hash out differences on taxes. Make your stand clear on home rule. The party needs to stand for something, and voters need to see what that is. And not inconsequentially, active Democrats need a voice in setting your direction. That’s their route in, how they can buy-in to who the New Jersey Democrats will be.

    Transparency You have a nifty website. But it doesn’t do enough. Publish the DNC bylaws, NJSDC bylaws and bylaws of every county party. Everybody needs to know the rules, and how to work them to get done what they want to. Knowing the rules levels the playing field, and if you want us to believe that Democratic is also democratic, you’re going to want to level that field.

    Post on your site every member of every Democratic County Committee and how to reach that person. This party should make it easy for Democrats to see who’s supposed to be doing the work where they live, and if that person’s unresponsive, then the party should make easy for someone to challenge and contribute that work.

    AMEN.  The only thing that I would add is that such a list include vacancies and identifies municipal chairs.

  8. Babs NJSD

    Right now there are zero “out” LGBT voting members of the NJDSC. To his credit, Joe Cryan, as Chair when so informed, appointed, on 2 separate occasions, an LGBT Deputy Vice Chair to at least recognize the LGBT community.

    The voting members of the NJDSC come from the 21 counties and the Democratic Party’s second most loyal constituency must be included at the city, county and state levels.

    The DNC in 2008 added a new rule which applied to each of the state parties to require LGBT inclusion to reflect the LGBT vote. NJ county chairs need to get the message. We also need competent LGBT people to come out and step up!

    Some posts were made regarding the lack of a platform, I think we can reasonably look at the DNC platform and that which was approved at the 2008 Convention. Some things we can do now, others are worthwhile goals.

    What is really important is that we don’t alienate or drive to ambivalence good Democratic Party voters and activists, as well as people for whom the Democratic Party actually seeks to represent, while the wing nuts and tea-baggers are energized, often against their own personal self interests.

    Babs Casbar Siperstein

    DNC Member

    Deputy Vice Chair NJDSC

  9. Jim33

    Do you mind some brutally honest feedback from an independent voter, with no personal offense intended?  I also want to move away from the abstract.

    First, the honest: NJ Democrats are pathethically unprofessional.  Nine out of 10 seem to be either starry-eyed liberals or the power elites, neither of whom can see the constituency wholly or realistically.  Good won’t prevail for good’s sake, and neither will money and power guarantee long-term success.

    You should study the fundamentals of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy to make EVERY race important, every race intended to win.  Not only does every race matter, but so does every VOTE in statewide candidates and referenda.  You have to stop conceding races before you’ve even sought a candidate.  (I saw yesterday that a group of progressives have posted an ad at Craig’s List seeking candidates they can support — good idea.)  

    From what I’ve seen of Josh Zeitz, he is one of the rare ones between idealism and corruption.  Intelligent, professional, sharp-tongued.  We need to see 200 more candidates like that, not just ballot lines and people who bought nominations.

    When I see the the DSC concede races by nominating people who won’t get off their arses to campaign — and, to be fair, get no state support for those campaigns — it makes me as an independent wonder why I should care about any of your races anywhere.  What you do in the small picture affects your most important races, and visa versa, which is why so many coattailed on Obama, but expect that pendulum to swing right on back, just as hard if you don’t take start paying some serious attention to enduring strategies.  Too often, neither I nor anyone I know (don’t underestimate the 6 degrees of separation, the grapevine, etc.) has seen or heard from any Democrat during an election cycle, except maybe, maybe a stupid flyer in the mail on the last day.

    Second, specifics.  

    1) Get state and even national Dem support into Monmouth and Ocean counties, not that Sen. Menendez has set a successful example of how to do that.  The Dems have been completely gutless in rescuing us from corruption and political abuse here.  You need to turn around the stigma to being a Dem in South Jersey outside of Camden.

    2)  To coin a phrase, “It’s the media, Stupid!”  Take control of your own message and stop letting the Republicans define you.  You have to take on the Asbury Park Press, consistently and seriously.  You need to call them out for having party loyals including Managing Editor Gary Schoening and Lisa Kruse, longtime a key spokeswoman in Christie Whitman’s inner circle, as a night editor writing biased headlines, editing copy to satisfy GOP sensibilities, and selecting stories with a jaundiced eye favoring and protecting people and businesses the GOP depend on.  Call them out for illogical endorsements and scheduling publication to deliberately double as GOP campaign flyer copy.  Demand equal time and equal space, and find competent op-ed and letter writers who can make rational positions and rebuttals (like Zeitz).

    3)  Social networks MATTER! Blue Jersey is one of the best, most professional and most cohesive bases you have going, and your party has underappreciated that.  Here, people with like minds can gather without confines of time and distance.  You MUST get more bloggers operating, separately and networked into BlueJ, and get them into places like Ocean County where people can rarely find similar voices in actual public.  

    Working with many GOP loyals, I’ve observed that their virtual-world warriors already are in action, synchronized like a fine orchestra, with daily talking points and spins and diversions posted as comments on news stories, in Gannett pubs and Star-Ledger, in particular.  Many times, especially with the APP, the news report is so lame that it’s easy for the crazies to create not just their own meme but a whole new set of facts!  The average reader doesn’t fully understand that these “newspapers” don’t screen out garbage.  People believe that if the paper didn’t remove it, it must have the paper’s seal of approval.  

    You should, seriously, re-educate media consumers what intelligent, objective journalism is, and what it is not — not Rutgers’ shame James O’Keefe and gay hooker James “Jeff Gannon” Guckert, self-proclaimed “investigative journalists.”

    Third, let me reiterate other points made, such as self-purging the ethics embarrassments. But, especially, YOUTH, YOUTH, YOUTH.  I don’t think it can be emphasized enough that the Dems need to help college and high school students express left-leaning political interests.  

    I don’t mean merely putting cash in Young Dem Clubs (although that would be a nice start), but it’s also in organizing chapters of NOW, Feminist Majority, Boy Scouts for Gay Rights, Junior State of America, model U.N. (to GOP, that’s like holding a gold cross to a vampire), GLT Alliance, Young Sierra-like Clubs, Singles Groups, etc.

    Think big.  Working with young voters and near-voters and using endless online potential, you don’t need big money.  You need inspiration, leadership, and creativity — and daily communication of relevant facts about topics in the news.


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