Write In Booker To Send a Message

(Promoting this awesome idea, and encouraging all to consider it. – promoted by KendalJames)

For progressives there are a lot of reasons to be wary of Newark Mayor Cory Booker as our next US Senator, no the least of which are his closeness to Wall Street and corporate interests and his backing of educational “reform” that has been demonstrated as no more effective than existing public education while damaging public education.

For some progressives — find some on our Facebook page — these issues raise enough concerns that voting for Booker is problematic.  Some even say they will sit out the election or vote for a third party candidate that can’t win rather than cast a ballot for Booker.  For these folks Booker’s long advocay for marriage equality, civil rights, environmental regulations, participation in Obamacare and guaranteed vote for Democratic court nominees are overshadowed by his conservative economic stances.

But if we sit out the election, Booker won’t notice.  If you vote for a third party candidate, Booker won’t notice.  Sitting out or voting for a sure loser doesn’t send a message, doesn’t achieve anything except making the individual feel better about their personal actions.

Frankly, I don’t see the point.  One of the things I like best about progressives is we like to accomplish things.  Even our protests for things we are sure to lose are supposed to move the discussion forward.  We like to make things happen.  And sitting out doesn’t do that.

So I racked my brain and came up with an idea we can do together to make the point that we are willing to vote for Booker, but would prefer candidates who are progressive not only on social issues, but also on economic issues.  And we want Booker to come to our side on those economic issues.

Write In Booker.

In this way we get to have our protest vote but still guarantee the regressive Lonegan will not win.

And Booker has to run again in 12 months for the full Senate term, against a much tougher candidate than Lonegan.  In 2014 he will need progressives to be his margin.  If we can get three, four or five percent or more of Booker’s votes to be write-ins this year it will send a message that we’re holding our noses this time, but next year may not bother if he doesn’t come around and stand with us on the issues that are important to us.

Interestingly, it’s thanks to Chris Christie’s megalomania that we may be able to pull this stunt off.  Yesterday only 10% of the voting public turned out to vote, and in the October general turnout will be similarly low.  With such minimal participation we can send the message that we want more and better Democrats.

We all have to agree to work together on this, to promote the idea in e-mails, on Blue Jersey, on Facebook, to our friends.  We need to partner with other progressive organizations who can help spread the word, and even with Democratic party organs who backed Rush Holt and Frank Pallone as progressive alternatives.

This publicity is necessary not just to get our numbers up so they’re noticeable, but also to ensure the party and Booker campaign hear us and know what we’re doing.

So, will you join us?  Will you, whether you like or dislike Booker, write him in instead of voting on the party line this year?

Tell us in the comments.

Comments (33)

  1. 12mileseastofTrenton

    He won’t notice that either.  Or care, since he’s getting the votes anyway.

    So, to thine own self be true.  I’m not voting for him.  And since there is no acceptable third candidate, I won’t be voting.  At least that’s how I intend to proceed.

  2. Erik Preuss

    But here is what you need to do:

    Booker is going to win this election handily, we all know that; and we should all be voting for him. Sitting out an election is nonsense, and so is a meaningless write-in vote. Do you think Booker will care how he gets there as long as he wins? I doubt it. BUT, there is a simple solution if you don’t like Booker representing you:

    Find a suitable progressive candidate, and have them work on a campaign to primary him next year. Holt and Pallone never really had a shot because of the name recognition Booker had already accrued and the short amount of time between Lautenberg’s death and the primary. But if one of them wanted to run again, and started fundraising, giving speeches, and making waves now; they could have a chance. I really believe mounting an effective primary campaign is feasible if it had enough time to develop and enough grassroots support. We’ve seen this kind of thing on the GOP side, so why is it impossible to see it happening with Democrats? Plus, there may be more opportunities to show that Booker isn’t a “true progressive” now that he will have to vote on the national stage. If he proves to be a phony, those votes can be used against him.

  3. D36Dem

    Why not just vote for one of the third party candidates?

  4. zi985

    Every progressive should vote in EVERY election in NJ, be it school board, municipal, primary, or general elections.  12mileseastofTrenton–if you feel that strongly about not voting for Booker then you can always write-in Rush Holt or Frank Pallone on the ballot on October 16th.  Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, go and vote on Oct. 16th!

  5. firstamend07

    Are far lefties taught to take their ball and go home if they do not get their way.

    Come inside the Big Tent and be part of something instead of always wishing things were different.

    Stop being on the fringe.

  6. robusdin

    ….on Facebook – it’s pragmatists versus idealists.  I get that.

    On the other hand – if more people started to really understand that the two party system as it stands is broken – maybe we’d have a chance at voting in a third party truly progressive candidate who more closely follows the ideals and doesn’t follow the money.

    Is it a radical idea? Yes.  But radicalism has been mainstreamed before, and I believe it can be again.

    And I’m for third party on the other side too – I find far too many conservatives willing to vote for Christie even though they disagree with his social stances.

    Sorry but a write in vote for Booker is still a vote for Booker, and doesn’t sit with me.

  7. Carl Bergmanson

    that write-in votes for someone who is on the ballot don’t count – we ran into this a few years back…

  8. DSWright

    Oh really?

    How long has he been advocating that issue again?

    His conversion to ME is recent, “civil rights” I’m not sure that’s a brave stance in 2013, oh and he did offer some early hedges on his support for Social Security before finally affirming support. Not that he hasn’t told a few fibs on the campaign trail before.

    In other words, claiming he is a reliable vote for the Democratic platform is speculative not demonstrated. He may vote with the party OR he may go his own way for increased media coverage, especially on right-wing economic issues.

  9. Hopeful

    I’d check with a lawyer.

    For example, the law allowing write-ins only allows it for a person not printed on the ballot, but I’m not a lawyer.

    Nothing in this Title shall prevent any voter from writing or pasting under the proper title of office in the column designated personal choice the name or names of any person or persons for whom he desires to vote whose name or names are not printed upon the ballot for the same office or offices,


    Also, it seems to me you’re just being a jerk to the poor people who have to count them.

    In any case, I’m happy to vote for Booker.    

  10. tjmcgrail

    I agree.  

    My first priority is to make sure Lonegan is not elected.  I will work hard to keep that from happening. He is, by far, the most right-wing extremist the NJ GOP has nominated for state office in my memory.  

    However, I also believe that a message needs to be sent to Cory Booker.  His positions on public education are incompatible with research.

    New Jersey’s public schools are among the best in the nation.

    As a retired educator, I am appalled by his lack of knowledge in this area.  I strongly oppose public funds being diverted to vouchers, private schools, and private enterprises operating alleged public charter schools, non-profit and for profit.

    If you are concerned about the future of NJ students, then use your vote to affirm your belief in public education by writing in Booker’s name in the October election.


    Tim McGrail

  11. Liberals_4_Lonegan

    We can do more than send a message that will not be heard.  We can make a statement.  We can end Cory Booker’s political career, which will send a message to the entire political establishment here in NJ and throughout the country and world that we take our politics seriously and will no longer tolerate manufactured media creations and demand elected officials who stand for something more than their own ambitions.

    Yes, Steven Lonegan is a terrible person and having him as one of our United States Senators for a year-plus would be very embarrassing, but if a quasi-moderate like Scott Brown could not survive a real election cycle, someone who resembles another Scott (Garrett) more than Brown, is going to lose to any Democrat in November 2014 that we nominate next June.  

    As much as we would like to fantasize about it, neither Rush Holt nor Frank Pallone are going to risk their safe House seats to run against Cory Booker in a Democratic primary election next year.  They know how NJ politics works and they know that the risk is simply far too great and the reward nearly impossible.

    However, if Booker were to somehow lose to Lonegan in October, not only would his brand be irreparably damaged, making a 2014 rematch unlikely, if not impossible, Holt and/or Pallone might be more inclined to risk their political careers and futures in a wide-open primary election, knowing that whomever wins that primary election will be facing Lonegan in November 2014.

    Cory Booker is not going to notice how many write-in votes he gets in October if he defeats Steven Lonegan in a landslide.  However, he and others will notice if he somehow loses to Lonegan, especially if liberals make it clear that we are not just voting for a Ralph Naderesque third party candidate, but actively choosing the far greater of two evils temporarily to have a real chance at electing someone good next year.

    Yes, we will have to suffer the embarrassment of having this vile person as our Senator for the next year-plus, but in the same way that Massachusetts was fortunate enough to replace Scott Brown with someone far better than the person he defeated, so can we.

    If I thought that the terrible votes that Lonegan would cast over the next year-plus would make a difference in the grand scheme of things, I would never even consider such an abhorrent act as voting for him, but I believe that Washington is going to be irreparably gridlocked until January 2015 if not longer unless the Democrats can take back the House and keep the Senate, so I believe that we can tolerate the short-term embarrassment of being represented by Lonegan in return for the long-term benefit of being represented by someone far better than Booker for a full six-year term.

    If we want good people like Holt or Pallone to take risks on our behalf, we should be willing to do the same for them.  For this reason, I believe that we should not only vote for Lonegan, but get other liberals to do the same.  I don’t know if the turnout in October is going to be so low that our efforts can make a difference, but if we are going to do something, we might as well do something that has a chance of having its desired effect in the long-term at the very least.

    The alternative is electing Cory Booker to the Senate and then the Presidency and enabling him to become the standard-bearer for a new Democratic Party that continues all of the corporatist, wrong-headed policies on issues ranging from banking and finance to education that have become more and more acceptable under the Obama Administration.  We can do better, but the only way to do that is to defeat Booker in October.

  12. 12mileseastofTrenton

    None are really party candidates, just individuals running as independent candidates.  There’s no Green Party candidate, etc.

  13. vmars (Post author)

    Voting for third parties can have any number of messages.  “I like the Green Party.” “The candidate is my neighbor.” “He’s my brother-in-law’s barber.” “I’m pissed at Booker’s stance on education.”

    A vote for the Green candidate is as useful as a vote for the Libertarian candidate — not at all.  At least at this level.  For town council you might elect a Green or get a high percentage, but here you’re in the margins.

    But a write-in for a candidate who is already on the line is an aberration.  100 of them is funny to the campaign.  Three percent when it’s been announced that the movement around it is because voters aren’t satisfied with the candidate is reason to worry.  

    Five percent would scare them, because it’s unusual and takes a LOT of effort.  If five percent actually see the campaign, actually think about it, actually go to the polls, actually take the time to write in when they could just press a button, that means they are considered, intelligent, active Democrats who are not satisfied and want something changed.

  14. 12mileseastofTrenton

    Joe D will be calling soon.


  15. vmars (Post author)

    Your idea of big tent, blind party loyalty would have us voting for Bull Connor in the 1950s because “he’s a Democrat.”

    We’re not Democrats because we really like the logo or it’s our team.  This ain’t sports fandom here.  We’re Democrats because we believe the party is the best way to accomplish goals we believe are the best for our cities, state and country.

    And if the Democrats demonstrate that they no longer support the things we support, then, yeah, they’ll lose our support.  That’s what democracy is about.

    This Write In Booker idea is a way of saying, “OK, we’ll give you a chance but there are some things we’re looking for in order to continue supporting you.”  It gives him time to consider positions he could easily hold in Newark but that we don’t want him to hold in DC.

    Look at Kristen Gillibrand as an example.  She very quickly figured out that her very conservative guns and God policies as a northern, rural New York member of Congress weren’t going to keep her elected as a US Senator because it’s not what the voters wanted.  So she changed.

    Booker might do the same.  

  16. 12mileseastofTrenton
  17. firstamend07

    At least they are players.Not like you and some other weak kneed far lefties!

  18. 12mileseastofTrenton

    Your admiration for bossism and corruption never ceases to amaze.

  19. vmars (Post author)

    You are more impressed with Democrats who will endorse the Republican in a race, support their election, give them cover than someone who only says they won’t vote for either candidate?

    So someone who betrays his party is someone to respect, but someone who decides not to vote in a certain election is a weak kneed coward?

    What’s amazing is you seem to prefer traitors to people who just walk away and do no damage.  

  20. vmars (Post author)

    use the keyboard.  I’ve done it a few times.

  21. vmars (Post author)

    and that’s the publicity.  This has to be a CAMPAIGN where we have buttons, t-shirts, e-mails, etc. to Write in Booker so that when his name is written in they know why.

    That way we can ensure Booker knows we’re not happy, but still keep Lonegan out of office.

  22. Babs NJSD

    Bleh is what you get!

    There is NO EXCUSE not to vote!

  23. firstamend07

    At least Stack and the others get involved.

    The wimps,like yourself, that have been posting on this site about not voting and sitting things out and not getting involved are showing their true colors.

    Progressives who do so are doomed to failure ,now and in the future.

    In case you did not notice,the political world keeps on spinning with or without you.  

  24. vmars (Post author)

    It accomplishes nothing but giving you satisfaction, and destroys good conversations.

  25. vmars (Post author)

    the need to send a message vs. the need to be within their comfort zone.

    Not voting sends no message, since not voting could mean you worked late, had the flu, blew a tire on the freeway, got hit by a flying squirrel and were hospitalized, or don’t care for the candidates.

    Voting third party, at this point, sends the same message.  And the last time a “third party” took power it was the Republicans who were really just a faction of the whigs.  All other change to electoral politics has come within a party’s rank and file.  It goes back to environmentalism, trust busting and unionization in the early 20th century.  It followed with civil rights and opposing unjust wars in the mid-20th.  It went the other way with the GOP embracing radical right evangelicals and anti-taxers, and now with marriage equality.

    These things don’t happen because of third parties who advocate for something.  Usually it happens because outsiders start advocating for something and rank and file members of one of the parties finds those outsiders persuasive.  Then they change their party, and the country changes.

    So I came up with an idea to stay within the party, to maintain the position as rank and file in the party, and still work together to send a message that we don’t like the party leadership — the line — telling us how to act and vote.  Instead we’ll go off-line and vote as Democrats for the Democrat, but we want change.

  26. Erik Preuss

    But lets say this election improbably gets close within the next two months; at that point is a vote for Booker the worst thing in the world?

    Like I said above, the best solution is to try and get either Holt or Pallone to run a primary against him 12 months from now. It will give them enough time to raise funds and raise name recognition. And, should Booker prove to be as conservative as many think he is, we will have hard evidence of it in his votes. At this point, however, I think ensuring a Lonegan loss should be the priority.

  27. Rosi Efthim

    DSWright, no it’s not true that Cory Booker’s support of marriage equality is recent. I’m a Garden State Equality board member and GSE is about 10 years old. I remember Booker coming to the first meeting that I did (long before I was a board member, at my first meeting,  when only 4 or 5 other people beyond the board were there). A pretty long time ago, as politics go. And if you think it’s scandalous that he came to understand the issue fully in the last decade or so (possible, since I don’t know his disposition before that), I can tell you that so did I.

    And whenever he came to the issue, he’s been a very valuable ally since.  

  28. southernbluedog

    I refuse to support Lonegan. I refuse to allow him to claim any kind of support from the liberal community, especially when he’s already targeting conservative democrats.

    If we want to get rid of Booker, we have to get Pallone to start campaigning now for the regular senate election. I think Pallone loses to Booker head to head, but it would at least give us options.

  29. Liberals_4_Lonegan

    If Booker beats Lonegan in October, neither Holt nor Pallone nor any other sitting Democratic Congressman is going to risk their safe House seat to challenge Booker next June.  As progressive as they are, they are still part of the Democratic establishment and they know how the game is played.

    Rob Andrews is the only sitting Democratic Congressman who has challenged an incumbent Senator and the only reason that he still has his seat is because he was able to play a game of musical chairs with his wife, facilitated by powers that be in South Jersey.

    Bob Menendez had a far more problematic track record when he was appointed to Senate seat by Jon Corzine and neither Holt nor Pallone took him on when he ran for re-election in 2006.  They would have had a much better chance of beating Menendez than Booker, but the risk for them was still far too great.

    The only people who you might get to run against Booker in a Democratic primary election are Steve Rothman, who would have nothing to lose, but would be a huge longshot (considering how popular Booker is with Jewish voters, I am not sure if Rothman could beat him in that demographic or any other) or Steve Sweeney, who is even more conservative than Booker, so what would be the point?  Is there another state legislator with nothing to lose who would take Booker on next year?  Not likely.

    The only way to put a liberal Democrat in that Senate seat is to let Lonegan have it for a year-plus in the same way that Scott Brown had Ted Kennedy’s seat temporarily before being defeated by Elizabeth Warren.  Yes, that year-plus would suck, big time, but we would survive it and politics in the long-run would be better for it.

  30. D36Dem

    In the next generation of machines, they should put the letters in QWERTY order, not ABC order.

  31. D36Dem

    Any write-in vote for Booker would be purely symbolic; it wouldn’t be added to his vote total.

  32. vmars (Post author)

    Or let us use our phones!

  33. Babs NJSD

    Rosi is “spot on” about Booker. I recall that GSE meeting…I was Vice chair of GSE at the time and I was impressed at his willingness to learn and engage constructively.

    This was the first time I had met him and I had the opportunity to talk to him about other matters in a constructively critical manner that were not necessarily LGBT in scope.

    He is serious and always willing to learn and, I believe, able to look at the big picture and do the right thing in a balanced way. That, along with his personal charisma may be his ultimate strength.

    Some time ago, Cory was a featured speaker at an HRC Gala. As you should know, HRC has had (putting it in the best light) a “checkered” history with transgender inclusion and transgender rights. trans people are more likely to picket and protest their Gala’s rather than attend. some with attend and protest. A trans person there evidently got an opportunity to engage with the Mayor and really struck a chord with him. Cory reached out to me soon after to learn, to find out why  transpeople are third class.

    People might be surprised that he knew so little since there IS a large trans population in Newark … but they are hidden, stealth and most do not trust or interact with the “gay” population IMHO.

    I may not agree with every little thing that he does or doesn’t do… and for the record I was neutral in the recent primary … BUT, I strongly believe that all over us must GOTV for Corey for Senate in October … the alternative is Lonegan and you should consider that! If you want to protest with a “write in” for Booker … that makes sense… not voting is @#$%!

    Also Cory is a strong supporter of Barbara Buono … we need to make synergies!


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