Dear Senator Lautenberg:
I am writing to ask you to endorse your good friend and political ally, Congressman Steve Rothman, whose political career is on the line this Tuesday, June 5, when he faces Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. in the primary election in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District.
You more than anyone should know what it means to have your career be on the line in a primary election. After victoriously returning to the United States Senate as the replacement candidate for disgraced former Senator Robert “When did we become such an unforgiving people?” Torricelli (who Pascrell supported when Torricelli was considering a gubernatorial run in 2000-2001) in 2002, you were challenged in 2008 by Congressman Rob Andrews, a minion of Norcrossippi party boss, George Norcross, and in an attempt to flex his political muscles outside of his Norcrossippi fiefdom, Norcross reached out to the other party bosses.
One of these bosses was Bergen County Bossman Joe Ferriero, who for some time had been embroiled in a feud with the progressive State Senator Loretta Weinberg and was looking for allies who could help him defeat her once and for all. Ferriero and Norcross were on the verge of striking a deal that would provide Ferriero with the help that he was seeking in return for him delivering the BCDO’s party line to Rob Andrews, which would have likely produced a domino effect that would have also resulted in Andrews getting the lines in other Democratic strongholds in North and Central Jersey, almost guaranteeing him victory in the primary election.
However, before this deal could be finalized, your aforementioned good friend and political ally, Steve Rothman, stepped forward and stood up to Ferriero and threatened to run off the line with you and his own slate of county candidates, who would have been bracketed with you throughout Bergen County.
Because county-level electeds were the bread and butter of Ferriero’s corrupt political machine, he could not risk the possibility of a seriously contested primary election with your name and Rothman’s name on the top of the opposition slate jeopardizing his control over Bergen County government, canceled the deal with Norcross, and gave you the party line in Bergen County. The dominoes quickly fell your way shortly thereafter and you defeated Andrews by a wide margin.
If Joe Ferriero wasn’t the gutless bully that he was, he would have given the party line to Andrews and recruited Michael Wildes, who had the resources at his disposal to be a competitive opponent, to run against Steve Rothman. Congressman Rothman put his political career on the line for you, Senator Lautenberg, and while you remain silent to date, Pascrell has enlisted the support of Norcross, who is seeking revenge against the man who prevented his crony from defeating you four years ago. The least that you could do is give his re-election campaign the gravitas and stature that comes with your endorsement.
Considering the fact that you have been a fierce opponent of Norcross and his efforts to force an unwise merger of Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden recently, the old adage, the enemy of my enemy is my friend should apply here, but the fact of the matter is that adages should not be necessary. Steve Rothman has been a good and loyal friend and ally to you and your silence in this race is betraying that friendship.
Friendship and loyalty aside, Steve Rothman is the more progressive Democrat in this race and deserves your endorsement purely on the merits of the quality of his service as a congressman and your shared commitment and dedication to good government and progressive values. Please reconsider your neutrality in this race and announce your endorsement of him while it can still make a difference.
Former Municpal Chair
Dunellen Boro Democratic Organization
ps – If you bump into Senator Robert Menendez, you might also want to remind him that when every other Congressman in the state was competing with one another to get the appointment to replace then-Governor-elect Jon Corzine in the United States Senate, Steve Rothman selflessly endorsed him for the job. That should count for something. Shouldn’t it?