Let the 2013 Games Begin

Why Sheldon Adelson Cares About who Builds Burlington County’s Roads

There’s a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about a potential Christie-Booker gubernatorial race next year. Booker has the star power to match the outside money that Christie will be receiving from the unlimited bank accounts of the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson.  The Newark Mayor is also one of the few contenders who would receive the same type of fawning coverage from the mainstream media that the governor enjoys.  But a post-mortem of some local election results indicates that the right wing oil barons and religious extremists may have their eye on another prize as well.

In an article buried on NJ.com, it was revealed that Sheldon Adelson’s comrades pumped $112,000 into misleading and untruthful negative ads supporting the two losing candidates in the recent race for Burlington County Freeholder. Now that amount of money is chump change for Adelson, but the fact that he’s interested in Freeholder races is important. Not that he’d make a ton of money off of the roads and hospitals that the Freeholders control, but because Freeholders are one of the farm teams for potential legislative candidates. The more fellow travellers that Adelson can put on Freeholder boards, the more potential candidates he grooms for legislative positions.

All 120 seats of the New Jersey legislature are being contested. Wouldn’t the Republicans be delighted if they could capture control of one or both houses? That would be a disaster for New Jersey’s middle class.

Despite its reputation as a blue state, New Jersey’s GOP is alive well, and eager to take over. And while there are a handful of moderate Republicans in power who vote their conscience like Senator Diane Allen, the majority of Republican legislators, including so-called moderates like Kip Bateman, are more often than not under the thumb of Chris Christie and his Koch Brothers patrons.

Democrats in the legislature are not perfect. I wish we could have a Senate full of Barbara Buonos and an Assembly full of John McKeons. But that isn’t going to happen.

Many Democrats, especially readers of this blog, are borderline apoplectic that their party is controlled by powerful bosses – mostly unelected ones. That bothers me too. But I’m pragmatic. Supporting a progressive and independent third party would be an exercise in futility. In general, any Democrat, boss-influenced or not, is better than a Christie-controlled Republican.

Take, for example, my Assemblyman, Troy Singleton. He’s an unabashed admirer of the unelected South Jersey Democratic Czar George Norcross III.

Singleton’s positions on charter schools and pension/benefit reform bother me to no end. But he and I agree more than we disagree. He’s in favor of marriage equality, women’s health, and most other issues pertaining to labor unions. Singleton is a hard worker, always available to talk, and has no hidden agenda.

Now consider the people he defeated in the last election – Christie acolytes who would simply be a rubber stamp who vote against any and all bills that would promote the middle class over the wealthy, ensure women’s health, and secure rights for all New Jerseyans. I am thrilled that Troy Singleton represents me in the General Assembly and I know that where we agree to disagree, he’s willing to listen and discuss the issue.

So get ready for the onslaught of outside money – not just for Chris Christie, but for current GOP Freeholders and other Tea Party sympathizers in the upcoming legislative races. Sitting out the election because you don’t like the Democratic candidate is not an option. Now is the time to get “good” Democrats involved in the process.

The 2012 Presidential race showed that at least at the national level elections couldn’t be bought. Let’s hope the same is true for elections on the state level.

Comment (1)

  1. Bertin Lefkovic

    …a progressive and independent third party?

    I am not and to the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a single non-pragmatic commenter or diarist here who has ever advocated for anything like that and to even suggest that anyone here has in the way that you have here is insulting to those of us who recognize that Christiecrats are just as much of an obstacle to progressive change as Republicans.

    Troy Singleton appears to be a decent enough legislator and it is reasonable that he has allowed himself to be as bought and paid for by Norcross as he is because he came of age in a political environment where there was no progressive alternative to Norcross in the Democratic Party anywhere in Norcrossippi.

    The lack of a progressive alternative to Norcross, the other political machines and their bosses in the state, and the NJDSC as a whole within the Democratic Party is the main reason why our entire legislative caucus does not consist of Assemblypersons like John McKeon and Senators like Loretta Weinberg.

    In fact, McKeon and Weinberg are perfect examples of electeds who are where they are specifically because there were people who were willing to fight their respective party organizations on behalf of people who they believed in.  In the case of McKeon, State Senator Dick Codey chose to run for re-election off the Essex County party line, because he believed that John McKeon was better than the people who the party chose to run with him.  Codey and McKeon won the primary and McKeon has proved himself to be both a loyal and progressive legislator.

    When the State Senate seat in LD37 became vacant, Bergen County Bossman Joe Ferriero wanted to fill it with his crony, Ken Zisa.  Then-Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg had other ideas.  She and others fought Ferriero at both the County Convention and in court when Ferriero and his cronies tried to steal the special election.

    Later, when Ferriero threatened to throw Weinberg and her allies, Valerie Vainieri-Huttle and Gordon Johnson off of the Bergen County line, the Real Bergen County Democrats was formed and threatened to run its own slate of county-level candidates against Ferriero’s.  He quickly backed down and endorsed the Weinberg-led legislative slate.

    There has been a lot of talk about the need for a 21-county strategy in our state, but almost everyone who talks about it is fixated on using such a strategy to defeat Republicans in red counties and districts and ignores the fact that progressives in blue counties need just as much help to win primary elections as progressives in red counties need to win general elections.

    This is why we need to create a New Jersey Progressive Democratic State Committee or use DFA-NJ as a de facto NJPDSC.  Maybe if this existed when Troy Singleton and so many others like him entered politics, he would not have been as willing as he has been to sell out to Norcross and so many others like him and to dismiss the possibility of electing progressives in every legislative district where it is possible to elect a Democrat in the way that you have here is as insulting to our progressive values as the Democratic establishment not investing resources in red counties and districts because they don’t believe that the candidates can win.

    Progressives need to fight anywhere and everywhere in both primary elections and general elections.  If there is anything that the Tea Party movement has taught us, it is that the only way that a party establishment takes their base seriously is when their base threatens the party establishment’s existence.  Progressives can make the Democratic establishment fear us just as easily as the Republican establishment fears the Tea Party movement.  The big difference is that we can produce competent candidates who can win general elections, unlike the TPM, which produces crackpots like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock to name a few of their disasters.

    Pragmatism is fine, but I think that what you have written here is defeatist more than pragmatic.  I wonder if you will be as willing to be as pragmatic a month or so from now if my prediction that Chris Christie is going to formalize his center-right coalition government with the Christiecrats by running for re-election as a Christiecrat winds up being true.  


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