Meeting commuters in Montclair

We noticed some new media-savvy friends of Blue Jersey in Alexander’s announcement this week of incoming senior campaign staff, among them Scott Shields and Matt Jordan. Not certain who is running Senator Nia Gill’s campaign, but of course she’s welcome on these pages, too. – Rosi

Cross Posted at

I spent my morning meeting with commuters at the Upper Montclair Train Station, talking about the issues, meeting people, and talking about why we need a new strong voice in the New Jersey State Senate. As I build my grassroots operation, the most important part of my campaign will be meeting new people and explaining to them why I can be effective in Trenton for working class families. Just like President Obama did in Iowa, South Carolina, and across the country, I am going to build a ground game that brings new people into the political process. I hope you will join this effort at

Comments (5)

  1. zi985

    Mr. Alexander, why should Democratic primary voters in LD-34 not support and vote for Senator Nia Gill on June 4th?  What specific policy issues do you and her differ on?  What are the major distinctions between you and Senator Gill regarding management and outreach?  I’m just curious what the actual differences are between both of you since a primary challenger, like yourself, is essentially a referendum on a sitting legislator like Nia Gill who has been serving in Trenton since 1994.  Thanks.

  2. Mark Alexander (Post author)

    Each Election Day we send these same people back to Trenton hoping maybe this time our issues will be addressed. Senator Gill has been a part of that problem during her two decades in the State Legislature. She is one of these people we keep reelecting year-after-year without real results. Property taxes keep going up. Investment in our schools is lacking. And now, Governor Christie rolling a conservative agenda through our State Legislature with Democratic complicity. I’m not going to try and be disingenuous and make claims that Senator Gill isn’t a progressive Democrat. On most issues, she takes stances that I agree with. But right now I truly believe that she is more interested in her own personal political interests, instead of the interests of families in the 34th District.

    Senator Gill is notorious for abusing senatorial courtesy and blocking judicial appointments, even going as far as to place a hold on our progressive Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. And for what reason? None was ever given. To me, it is unaccountable and unproductive.  As Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, why is Senator Gill taking over $7,000 in campaign contributions from check cashing companies? It might be legal, but it looks bad, especially with this type of business that is preying on families in the 34th.

    I also strongly feel that constituent services are being neglected by Senator Gill. She is not reaching folks and explaining what our State government can do for them. Her follow-up and outreach with constituents is not what it should be. It is something I will address on day one if elected to the State Senate. Constituent outreach and service will be a top priority.

    In the coming months I’m going to be rolling out a full platform. As a former National Policy Director to President Obama and Issues Director for Senator Bill Bradley during his presidential run, I really like getting into the thick of things and figuring out what works, and what doesn’t. I hope this campaign is focused on the issues and what Democrats can offer New Jersey in terms of solving their day-to-day problems.

    Thanks for the question and welcoming me to the Blue Jersey community.    

  3. Bertin Lefkovic

    …the fact that Nia Gill’s congressional candidacy last year was a major hindrance to Ron Rice’s effort in terms of dividing progressive votes and support.

    But if we are willing to look past that, and I am inclined to at the moment, then there is not likely going to be significant differences on matters of policy.  In fact, the only significant difference between the two will be revealed when the Essex County and Passaic County Democrats award Alexander and/or Gill a place on the party line.

    I say and/or, because it is possible that Alexander, who made some important friends in Passaic County last year when he endorsed Bill Pascrell, Jr. in his primary election battle against Steve Rothman despite the fact that Rothman was an Obama supporter, Pascrell was a Clinton supporter, and Alexander’s only claim to fame is his miniscule role in the Obama campaign, and those friends could cut a deal with the Essex County Democrats to let him run for State Assembly on the party line if Gill is awarded the State Senator spot.  I would be shocked if Alexander had the guts to run off the line.

    That said, knowing how tepid the Essex County Democrats’ loyalty to Nia Gill is and not knowing for sure if her congressional run last year was engineered behind the scenes by the Essex County Democrats or not, it is entirely possible that they could throw her off the line like they did in 2003 as punishment for her support for Tom Giblin in his 2002 County Executive race against Joe DiVincenzo.  If that happens, it remains to be seen if the beneficiary of this decision is Alexander or if it is more likely to be Assembly Speaker Shiela Oliver who is not expected to retain her leadership position next year.

    If the Essex Democrats run Oliver against Gill, I expect that they will offer the Assembly slot to Alexander.  I think that it is also possible that Assemblyman Giblin could be on the outside looking in as Passaic County might push for its only town in the district, Clifton, to be represented by its Municipal Chairwoman Lauren Murphy.

    Getting knocked off the party line would not necessarily be the end of the road for Giblin or Gill, especially if there is a contested gubernatorial primary election campaign that they can bracket with.  The only way that this could be problematic for them is if Dick Codey is running against Barbara Buono as both Giblin and Gill are Codey allies.

    That said, Codey does have a history of eschewing the party line and running off the line to help his friends as he did in 2001 when he chose to run with John McKeon and Mims Hackett instead of Pat Sebold and Linda Lordi-Cavanaugh, but if Codey runs against Buono, he will need every Essex County vote that he can get, so I seriously doubt that he would cede the party line to her just to help out Giblin and Gill.

    So if Gill is running off the party line and Alexander is running on the party line (since there is no way in hell that he has the guts to run off the line), I think that it is safe to bet that when the party bosses are on one side of an issue, and progressives are on another, which is usually the case here in NJ, Alexander will vote as he is told to by the bosses 100% of the time.  To be fair, as the years since 2003 have passed, Gill has become far less independent from the party bosses than she had been beforehand and if she gets the line, it will most likely be a testament to her willingness to fall in line.  If she runs off the line and wins again, it is possible that she could become more independent going forward, but there is also the matter of the legal work that she performs for the county.  That more than anything could keep her from straying too far on any issue of significance.

  4. Bertin Lefkovic

    As Assembly Speaker and an acolyte of one of the most corrupt political machine bosses in the state, Steve Adubato, she is far more responsible for so many of the problems caused by the Christie-Adubato-Norcross axis of evil than Nia Gill.  With the exception of her usage of senatorial courtesy, I expect that every criticism that you have directed at Gill could easily be directed at Oliver as well and would probably be more true.

    So why Gill and not Oliver?  Is it because of her questionable status with the powers that be in Essex County?  Is it because you have already worked out a backroom (over pizza at Mario’s in Clifton, no doubt) deal with the Essex County and Passaic County bosses to run on their party lines against Gill if Oliver does not want to run against her and to accept the State Assembly spot on these lines if she does?

    The only way that Democrats can truly offer New Jersey anything in terms of solving its day-to-day problems is if its elected officials can become more independent from the political machine bosses that are more aligned with our state’s Republican Governor than the values of our party’s progressive grassroots.

    It is very hard for me to see how you could possibly be more independent from the party bosses than Gill after you chose to endorse Bill Pascrell, Jr. last year against Steve Rothman despite the fact that Rothman was an Obama supporter, Pascrell was a Clinton supporter, and you were an Obama operative.  The only explanation for this decision is its ability to curry favor with the party bosses in Passaic County.

    I also do not believe that you have the guts to run off the line if the party line is awarded to Gill (or Oliver).  Are you willing to pledge to the readers of this blog and to our friends on your staff that you will continue to campaign for this Senate seat even if you have to run off the line?

  5. zi985

    Mark, thanks for the response to my questions.  I look forward to seeing your campaign unfold between now and June 4th.


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