A Progressive’s Dilemma

I feel your pain. – Promoted by Rosi Efthim

Cross-Posted from deciminyan.org

Now that the primary is over and the insurgent candidates were beaten back by their respective party’s establishments, what choice does a Progressive Democrat have in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District?

Two years ago, we rejoiced at John Adler’s victory on the coattails of Barack Obama.  Adler is the first Democrat to represent this area in over a century.  His reputation as a “liberal” in the State Senate brought hope that he would pursue an agenda that would be for the people and not the corporate interests.  But it all came crashing down when Adler bucked his party by voting for the insurance companies and denying health insurance coverage for 40 million Americans for another generation.

So now it’s Adler vs. Runyan.  The Harvard-educated lawyer with tons of legislative experience vs. an ex-footballer who shuns public scrutiny.  The Democrat who abandoned the people who got him elected vs. the anti-tax Republican who harbors donkeys on his Moorestown estate to escape taxes.  A Morton’s Fork creating a dilemma for Progressives this fall.

The Case For John Adler

While Adler brags about his middle-of-the-road voting record, we can assume that in a second term, his approach would be better than that of Jon Runyan.  As a Republican, Runyan would vote in lock step with the GOP leadership, just like his potential colleagues have done over the past two years.  Say what you want about Adler, at least he shows some independence.  But the overriding rationale to vote for Adler has nothing to do with votes on particular issues.  The House races this Fall will be very close, and with the current anti-incumbency fervor, the race for control of the House of Representatives is at stake.  It is critical for the Democrats to keep control, with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.  Despite being demonized by the right, Pelosi has been the star of the 111th Congress – building consensus among the diverse views within her party and shepherding Health Insurance Reform through the process while the President stood at the sidelines until the very last minute.  If the Republicans take control of the House, John “Hell No We Can’t” Boehner will be Speaker, second in line for the Presidency, and would make today’s obstructionist Senate pale by comparison.  If the race for Speaker gets down to a single vote, I’d want John Adler to be there representing NJ-3.

The Case Against John Adler

An Adler defeat would send a clear message that there’s not a large gap between his Blue Dog version of being a Democrat and a less-than-extreme Republican such as Runyan.  This would open the door for a real Progressive Democrat to ride Barack Obama’s coattails into the House in the 2012 election.  While he spouts much of the Tea Party rhetoric, Jon Runyan purports to be pro-choice and is not as homophobic as his party’s leadership.  If he can hold his own against their powerful grip, it might be a good thing to have someone like that in the Republic Party.

So as someone who almost always has voted Democratic, I have not yet made up my mind.  Right now, I can’t see myself voting for either candidate and regardless of what happens in the next five months, I can’t ever contemplate a scenario where I would vote for Jon Runyan.  Whether I vote for Adler or sit this one out remains my dilemma.

Comments (16)

  1. Hopeful

    for being in LoBiondo’s district.  🙂

    /not really.

  2. Bill Orr

    A dilemma no doubt, but your arguments pro and con are based on logic and reason. Sometimes the mind has to do what the heart dislikes.  

  3. Dvd Avins

    I don’t know what I’d do if I lived in the district. But completely sitting it out woudln’t be an option. If one doesn’t vote for adler, my opinion is taht one should send a message that there are progressivezs who are willing to drag their asses to the polls, but who chose not to vote for the Blue Dog.

  4. 12mileseastofTrenton

    I don’t like him either.  But (1) he’s not that bad.  He’s not Lieberman or Lincoln.  And (2) the House is up for grabs.  Dems can’t afford to give away any house seats.

  5. Jay Lassiter

    …he’s still rock solid on Choice and LGBT rights.  

  6. Got Kids

    In politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies.  

    We don’t just abandon Adler we abandon all those voters we spoke to in support of progressive reform; we abandon the opportunity to speak to them again and remind them why they voted Democrat in the first place;  we cede the battlefield to the talking heads they listen to while they enjoy that new lane on GSP; we drive democrats into the hands of the corporatists who wait with open arms (and open pocketbooks); and we abandon the opportunity to build our base.

    I was a staunch proponent of HCR and applaud all the hard work that progressives (like Grassroots4Change) put into the effort but we abandon Adler at our collective peril.

    No Permanent Friends, No Permanent Enemies.

  7. Nick Lento

    He also needs to be primaried the hell out of office in two years.

    Now is the time to find a suitable opponent and to start raising funds.

    In other words, I would still vote for him and support him over the Republican.  

    The problem for Adler is the same as it was for Corzine…..it’s hard to win close elections without a totally energized progressive base……the whole base.

    When we don’t fight….and the other side does; they win even though they “represent” a minority of the people.

  8. ken bank

    Keep Adler.  This is after all a Republican district that Christie and other GOP candidates won by a two-to-one majority last year.  The odds of ever electing a progressive from Ocean County are about the same as Helen Thomas becoming Prime Minister of Israel.

    I’m positive Adler had clearance from the WH and Pelosi to vote the way he did.  As long as his vote wasn’t needed to pass HCR there was no reason to unnecessarily jeopardize his chances of keeping the seat for Democrats.

    Instead of trying to unseat Adler or vote for an incompetent imbecile like Runyan it would be much better and more productive to channel that energy on building a viable Democratic organization in Ocean County.  You won’t be doing that by voting out of office the first Democrat to represent the district in over a hundred years, and the only Democrat who lends credibility to whatever organization exists in the district.

    New leadership is needed at the County level.  The former Democratic Chair in Ocean County, indicted for corruption and being involved with the likes of Solomon Dwek, Daniel Van Pelt and George Gilmore, was symptomatic of an even deeper sickness within the Democratic organization.

    If Democrats in Ocean County ever get their act together it may be possible to pickup some freeholder and legislative seats next year, especially after seniors realize the GOP took away their property tax rebates, and parents of school children realize the full brunt of cuts in school aid.

    I wish someone like Barry Bendar would utilize his energy and skill in taking on the real enemies of progressive reform and run for assembly, especially if there is a chance to gain a veto-proof majority for Democrats like Republicans had in 1991.

  9. Bertin Lefkovic

    …don’t contribute a moment of time or a penny to his campaign.

    It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  No matter what you or anybody else does, Adler is going to lose and probably lose big.  He won by a narrow margin when turnout was massive.  He is not going to have a chance in a low turnout election.

    It is my hope that progressives do not spend a moment of time or a penny on any congressional campaign as I do not foresee any of them being seriously contested.

    Instead, I would like to strongly encourage all progressives to get involved in Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein’s campaign to win Bil Baroni’s vacated State Senate seat and/or start organizing for the 2011 primary election season.

    These are the races where we can have a real impact, but we need to start organizing now.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *