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.