BCDO’s strategy fail – not just lose but lose badly

Say what you want about former BCDO Chairman Joe Ferriero, but he knew how to rack up Democratic wins in Bergen County.  As for his successor, Michael Kasparian, 2009 didn’t look too good but let’s not give him all of the blame for the loss of two freeholder seats and a near draw between Christie and Corzine in the backyard of the very popular Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate.  After all, he did have to come in on the heels of a cloud of corruption and it didn’t go away (probably still hasn’t).  That being said, Kasparian did say that he was not going to be the same type of leader as Ferriero and would have more transparency in the BCDO.  I assume he also had a goal of restoring the tarnished image of the BCDO.

Which makes the information I have been hearing that much more puzzling as well as maddening.  

Now, knowing that Scott Garrett is by far one of the most out of step Congressmen, tucked safely in a district that is hand drawn for a Republican to hold on the Congressional level and the desire for the Bergen Democrats to lay as low as possible, I can understand a level of concern, given the county and statewide election results last November.  But I have heard from at least four different people in four different parts of the county who have spoken to three very well known and high profile people high up in the BCDO – all of whom have indicated the chosen strategy of the BCDO (and I am paraphrasing):

We think it would be best to not run a challenger to Scott Garrett in the hopes that Republican voter turnout will be depressed and our local candidates will have a better chance of winning

Where to even begin here?  How about the following reasons why this is quite possibly the absolute dumbest and worst political strategy I have seen in a good long time:

  • Republicans are more motivated this year than in the past 6 years.  To think that they won’t be coming out stronger and hope they will forget there is an election is fantasyspeak;
  • Having no Congressional candidate will not “free up motivated volunteers” to help with, for example, Freeholder, County Executive, County Sherriff or other lower tier races – local races where quite frankly, most people don’t know or care enough to get involved;
  • Voter turnout in an off year (i.e., non-Presidential) is low as is – without giving the base a real reason to vote – and voting just for downticket races is hardly reason enough to get the full base out to vote – will only depress Democratic turnout further;
  • Sending a signal that you don’t even want to field a top of the ticket candidate is a message of fear – a losing message.  This will likely (1) depress the base vote further, (2) depress the motivated activists who would otherwise vote for an entire ticket, tell their friends and neighbors to do the same, volunteer and talk up the race and (3) create a backlash and resentment among those who know the damage that Scott Garrett does to the people of this district; and
  • Give the impression that an attempt to save their own personal political lives is more important than helping those constituents who they hope will elect (or re-elect) them to serve.  

What message does it send to me – a motivated activist who has spent the better part of my four years living in New Jersey working to oust Garrett?  That I should not only suck it up and let Garrett walk to a win – even if he ends up embroiled in his own horrific scandal – but I should also be a sport and team player and have all of my friends and neighbors come out and vote for downticket candidates because why?

And I know that there are hundreds of people like me – people who can get hundreds more to vote for a whole slate of Democrats.  What the Bergen Democrats don’t realize, just like the New Jersey Democrats who don’t understand Garden State Equality’s stance on not donating to the Democratic Party as a whole, is that our votes, our time and our money is earned.

By not running a Congressional candidate, the Bergen Democrats are doing none of the above – and they will only lose by a larger margin than if they had a Congressional candidate.

Comments (13)

  1. carolh

    for the Pay to Play system rests at the County level.  The BCDO would rather spend copiously on County races and Municipal ones than on Congressional.  Why?  Because the patronage machine only works if you can give County jobs to loyal flunkies and Municipal and County Contracts to wealthy donors.

    Which is why Congressmen grovel at the feet of the County Chairman instead of the other way ’round.  The year Paul Aronsohn got no help from Joe Ferriero’s BCDO to fight Garrett, 3 million was spent on the County Executive race.  

    The more the BCDO circles the wagons to protect the incumbents, the less money will be spent on Congressional races.  

  2. Nick Lento

    I agree with all the reasons given here for running someone.  

    If the BCDO fails to nominate a serious progressive candidate, then one should be drafted.    I’ve already proposed that Adam take on the role but he’s declined the opportunity.  😉

    My sense is that people are disgusted with both the Neanderthal Scott Garrett approach and the milquetoast spineless Democratic non-approach and that a truly energetic, committed grass roots progressive candidacy could go politically viral.    It would require some one smart with charisma, speaking skills, passion and a creative team able to innovate and to make the candidacy a movement.

    Find the right person and put together the right team…..and the money and the votes will come.  Mr Preuss is correct Garrett is beatable.   It’s not a likely or easy scenario but I believe it is quite possible.

    Sadly the cynicism from both Carol and Adam re the BCDO seems to be fully valid….though I am holding out hope for a surprise tomorrow night.

    I’ll say this, a passive election strategy designed to try to suppress the opposition vote will fail miserably.   The Ferriero machine is broken and if they try to rebuild it they will keep on losing.  

    This mirrors the national situation is some respects……when you’re down points and the momentum is going against you is not the time to mount a “prevent defense”.    It would be funny if the stakes weren’t so high.

  3. jerseyboy32

    Let’s try to recruit someone to run a suicide mission in a republican year in a republican District!!!!! yea that sounds great.  Let’s also get someone to raise 3-4 million dollars in the middle of a recession!!!  Yea this is a great plan.  hey let’s also let them know that the 5th District might not even be around in 2 years so even if you raise the impossible amount of money, and win an impossible race, you will lose your seat afte the census!!!!!  I am sure people will be jumping for the opportunity.  you guys are all so niave and stupid its laughable.


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