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.