Political history – and LGBT history – in New Jersey today

Hi, everyone.  It’s hard to imagine how Jeff Gardner feels today, having knocked off Senator John Girgenti and then seeing the Bergen Democrats nominate another progressive activist instead.  

But actually, we CAN imagine how Jeff, one of the classiest, most wonderful people in activism anywhere in America – someone we all love not only for his progressive leadership, but also because he is the ultimate mensch – feels today.  He’s disappointed the nominee isn’t himself, but he no doubt recognizes some political history was made today.  And Jeff, you played the leading role in making it happen.

Indeed, today was the first time in New Jersey history that any race for state legislature came down to two openly LGBT candidates, Jeff Gardner and the Mayor of Maywood, Dr. Tim Eustace, whom the convention chose as the party’s nominee for open Assembly seat in the newly configured 38th district.

Both Jeff and Tim are longtime active members in Garden State Equality.  You can imagine how we’re bursting with pride.  

It came down to geography, purely and simply.   This new 38th district is 92 percent Bergen County and 8 percent Jeff’s county, Passaic.  For that reason alone,

For those reasons, the Bergen Democratic Committee members wanted a Bergen candidate, and chose Tim Eustace.  

Tim is fantastic:   He is pro-equality everything, including marriage equality, a progressive, a reformer and an all-around great guy.  

How great that the party chose a progressive, openly LGBT candidate like Tim, while also expressing their admiration for another progressive, openly LGBT candidate in Jeff – which party leaders sure did today.  They went out of their way to praise Jeff’s political prospects.  

I was so deeply moved to see two members of Garden State Equality be the two candidates for the open seat.   As Tim whispered to me after, “Steven, did you ever imagine the day you’d see this?   It makes us proud to be Democrats again.”

Alas, I’m almost burying the lead – Tim and his Democratic running mates, incumbent Senator Bob Gordon and incumbent Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, both passionately pro-LGBT and pro-marriage equality, are in the fight of their lives in the general.  The new 38th legislative district is one of the three most competitive swing districts in the state.

We have got to work day and night for them in every way we can.  

Below is Garden State Equality’s official statement.   Thanks, all.

AT TODAY’S BERGEN COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, A FIRST IN NEW JERSEY POLITICAL HISTORY:

A RACE FOR STATE LEGISLATURE COMES DOWN

TO TWO LGBT CANDIDATES

Both Tim Eustace and Jeff Gardner are also Garden State Equality members

Tim, nominated for Assembly today with running mates Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner in the newly redrawn 38th legislative district, joins a ticket that will have Garden State Equality’s full support  

Jeff also ran a magnificent race, leading the stunning, successful campaign that ousted anti-equality Senator John Girgenti through redistricting

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Contact:  Steven Goldstein, Chair of Garden State Equality, cell (917) 449-8918

In a first in New Jersey politics – an election for state legislature between two members of the LGBT community – Dr. Tim Eustace, the Mayor of Maywood, was selected today in the Bergen County Democratic Convention today as the party’s nominee for the open Assembly seat in the newly drawn 38th legislative district.  All of us at Garden State Equality are thrilled for Tim, one of the state’s most capable and respected public leaders.  

Today’s nominated Democratic slate in the new 38th district – Mayor Tim Eustace for Assembly, alongside Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner – is a spectacular ticket that stands for full equality, reform-minded government and fiscal responsibility.  

The new 38th district is among the very few swing legislative districts in New Jersey.   This will be a closely fought race.  Garden State Equality work day and night to elect Bob, Connie and Tim in November.

A word about another candidate who ran for today’s open Assembly seat in the new 38th district.  Like Tim Eustace, Jeff Gardner is a member of Garden State Equality.  For years, Jeff has served as Garden State Equality’s Vice Chair.  Our organization is enormously proud to have endorsed him for the open seat.

Jeff is one of New Jersey’s – and the country’s – leading progressive activists.  Jeff emerged through this process as a huge winner as well.  He made anti-equality Senator John Girgenti, in what is now an adjacent legislative district after redistricting, vulnerable enough to be redistricted out of a seat and forced to retire.  A “bona fide giant slayer,” as Bergen Record reporter Charlie Stile described him, Jeff has a future in public service that’s simply fantastic.  

Indeed, Jeff had everything going for him except for geography:  92 percent of the new 38th district is in Bergen County.  Jeff lives in the one town in district not in Bergen, the decisive factor to party leaders.

The race for the open Assembly seat in the new 38th district has been a particular point of pride for Garden State Equality.  Again, this was the first time the two leading candidates for any election in New Jersey came down to two members of the LGBT community and two Garden State Equality members.  

It is yet another milestone in trajectory of Garden State Equality’s influence in New Jersey politics.  Since Garden State Equality’s founding 2004, New Jersey has enacted 212 LGBT laws at the state, county and local levels, a national record.  This week, PolitickerNJ.com named Garden State Equality a Winner of the Week because of the outcome of redistricting, through which two anti-marriage equality state Senators, Democrat John Girgenti and Republican Sean Kean, lost their seats.  

Garden State Equality did not spend a dime in the process.  

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